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A New Direc^ons Book Published By James Laughlin 

Copyright 1945 by New Directions 
Copyright 1954 by N ewt Directions 

Manufactured in the United States 
by the VaiUBallou Press 

New Directions Books are published by James Laughlin 
New York Office — 333 Sixth Avenue — N.Y, 14 


From 192&to 1933, 1 lived almost continuously in Berlin, with 
only occasional visits to other parts of Germany and to Eng- 
land. Already, during that time, I had made up my mind 
that I would one day write about the people Fd met and the 
experiences I was having. So I kept a detailed diary, which 
in due course provided raw material for all my Berlin stories. 

My first idea, immediately after leaving Berlin in 1933, was 
to transform this material into one huge tightly constructed 
melodramatic novel, in the manner of Balzac. I wanted to call 
it The Lost. This title, or rather its German equivalent, Die 
Verlorenen, seemed to me wonderfully ominous. I stretched 
it to mean not only The Astray and The Doomed — ^referring 
tragically to the political events in Germany and our epoch 
— ^but also “The Lost” in quotation marks — referring satiri- 
cally to those individuals whom respectable society shuns in 
horror: an Arthur Norris, a von Pregnitz, a Sally Bowles. 

Maybe Balzac himself could have devised a plot-structure 
which would plausibly contain the mob of characters I 
wanted to introduce to my readers. The task was quite be- 
yond my powers. What I actually produced was an absurd 
jumble of subplots and coincidences which defeated me 
whenever I tried to straighten it out on paper. Thank Good- 
ness I never did write The Lost! 

Just the same, all of these characters had grown together, 
like a nest of Siamese twins, in my head, and I could only 
separate them by the most delicate operations. There was a 
morning of acute nervous tension throughout which I paced 
up and down the roof of an hotel in the Canary Islands, 
shaping the plot of Mr. Norris and discarding everybody and 


everything that didn’t belong in it. This was in May, 1934. 
A few days later, I set to work on the novel, sitting in the 
garden of a pension at Orotava on Tenerife. The pension was 
run by a happy-go-lucky Englishman, who used to laugh at 
my industry and tell me I ought to go swimming, while I was 
still young. ‘‘After all, old boy, I mean to say, will it matter 
a hundred years from now if you wrote that yarn or not?” 
Relentlessly, at four o’clock every afternoon, he would start 
playing records at full blast through the loudspeaker on the 
patio, hoping to attract wandering tourists in for .a drink. 
They seldom came, but the jazz tunes always put an end to 
my day’s work. On August 12, 1 noted in my diary: “Finished 
Mr. Norris, The gramophone keeps repeating a statement 
about Life with which I do not agree.” I remember how I 
raced tlirough that last chapter with one eye on my watch, 
determined to get finished before the racket started. 

Mr. Norris was published in 1935. In England, the book 
bore its correct name: Mr. Norris Changes Trains; but the 
American publisher, William Morrow, found this obscure — 
so I changed it to The Last of Mr, Norris, a title which should 
be followed by a very faint question mark. 

Next I wrote the story of Sally Bowles, and it appeared 
as a small separate volume in 1937. Three other pieces — The 
Nowaks, The Landauers and Berlin Diary: Autumn 1930 — 
were published in issues of John Lehmann’s New Writing, 
Finally, the complete Goodbye to Berlin was published in 

Goodbye indeed! During those years that followed, the 
Berlin I’d known seemed as dead as ancient Carthage. But 
1945 came at last, and V-E Day. That summer, New Direc- 
tions was getting ready to republish Mr, Norris and Goodbye 
to Berlin in one volume. The Berlin Stories, While I was cor- 
recting the proofs, a letter, the first in seven years, reached 
me from Heinz, my closest “enemy” friend, telling how he had 
fought in Russia and later been taken prisoner by the Ameri- 
cans. After the fighting was over, the authorities at his POW 
camp had more or less allowed him, and a number of others, 

to run away, and had later forwarded his mail to his home 
address, marked ‘‘Escaped’’! As I read and reread this letter, 
the feeling began to work through me painfully and joyfully, 
like blood through a numbed leg, that Berlin — or, at any rate, 
the Berliners — still existed, after all. 

Then, in the summer of 1951, John van Druten decided 
that he could make a play out of Sally Bowles. His adapta- 
tion, I Am a Camera, was written with his usual skilled speed, 
and was I'eady for production that fall. When I arrived in 
New York to sit in on rehearsals, I had first to go to a studio 
and be photographed, for publicity, with our leading lady, 
Julie Harris. I had never met Miss Harris before. I hadn’t 
even seen her famous performance in The Member of the 

Now, out of the dressing-room, came a slim sparkling-eyed 
girl in an absurdly tart-l3ce black satin dress, with a little 
cap stuck jauntily on her pale flame-colored hair, and a silly 
naughty giggle. This was Sally Bowles in person. Miss Harris 
was more essentially Sally Bowles than the Sally of my book, 
and much more like Sally than the real girl who long ago 
gave me the idea for my character. 

I felt half hypnotized by the strangeness of the situation. 
“This is terribly sad,” I said to her. “You’ve stayed the same 
age while I’ve gotten twenty years older.” We exchanged 
scraps of dialogue from the play, ad-libbed new lines, 
laughed wildly, hammed and hugged each other, while the 

E hotographer’s camera clicked. I couldn’t take my eyes off 
er. I was dumbfounded, infatuated. Who was she? What 
was she? How much was there in her of Miss Harris, how 
much of van Druten, how much of the girl I used to know in 
Berlin, how much of myself? It was no longer possible to say. 
I only knew that she was lovable in a way diat no human 
could ever quite be, since, being a creature of art, she had 
been ‘created out of pxire love. 

As I watched those rehearsals, I used to think a good deal 
— sometimes comically, sometimes sentimentally — about the 
relation of art to life. In writing Goodbye to Berlin, I de- 

stroyed a certain portion of my real past. I did this deliber- 
ately, because I preferred the simplified, more creditable, 
more exciting fictitious past which I’d created to take its 
place. Indeed, it had now become hard for me to remember 
just how things really had happened. I only knew how I 
would like them to have happened— that is to say, how I had 
made them happen in my stories. And so, gradually, the real 
past had disappeared, along with the real Christopher Isher- 
wood of twenty years ago. Only the Christopher Isherwood 
of the stories remained, 

rd never thought about this situation before, because it 
had never seemed to have any particular significance. If my 
past was artificial, at least it had been entirely my own — 
until now. Now John, Julie and the rest of them had suddenly 
swooped down on it, and carried bits of it away with them for 
their artistic use. Watching my past being thus reinterpreted, 
revised and transformed by all these talented people upon 
the stage, I said to myself: "*1 am no longer an individui. I 
am a collaboration. I am in the public domain.” 

After the play had opened successfully gn Broadway, I 
went to England. This was my third visit since the end of die 
war; and this time, I knew, I must go over to Germany as 
well. It was a definite obligation — ^but how I dreaded iti I 
dreaded meeting the people Td known and facing the fact 
that there was practically nothing I could do to help them. I 
dreaded seeing familiar places in ruins. Though my mind 
was made up, my unconscious still protested: I developed 
symptoms of duodenal ulcer, and nearly broke my leg on a 
staircase. Throughout the flight from London, I expected a 
crash, and was almost disappointed when we landed safe at 
Tempelhofer Feld in a mild snowstorm — a psychosomatic 
snowstorm, obviously,” one of my friends commented, later. 

I had arrived prepared — overprepared — ^for a shock; and 
the drive through the streets wasn’t as depressing as I’d an- 
ticipated. As it was night, you couldn’t see much, anyhow, 
and it so happened that the houses along our route were less 
badly damaged than elsewhere. Indeed, the end of the drive 


brought a shock of a different kind; for I found myself among 
the new neon-lightede shops and bars of the Kurfuersten- 
damm, and entered a modernistic hotel where I was sur- 
rounded by thick-necked cigar-smoking businessmen who 
might have stepped right out of the cartoons of Georg Grosz. 
It was I, not these people, who had changed; for now I could 
afford Hio live with them. During my former Berlin existence 
as a down-at-heel English teacher, I used to know such 
places only from the outside, peering into them as I passed 
along the sidewalk with disapproval, moral superiority and 

But in those days (February, 1952) the Kurfuerstendamm 
was one of the still few areas of relatively intact prosperity. 
At the end of it, the nineteenth-century-Gothic Memorial 
Church looked more Gothic than ever in its jaggedly pin- 
nacled ruins. The Tauentzienstrasse beyond was like an 
avenue of shattered monuments. Through wide gaps between 
formless mounds of rubble, you got views over the great 
central desert of destruction, and saw the Sieges Saeule ris- 
ing forlornly from the treeless, snow-covered plain of the 
Tiergarten, which was dotted with bizarre remnants of statu- 
ary: a uniformed general, a naked nymph on a horse. In the 
background, the skeleton of a railroad station showed up 
starkly; and against the blue winter sky, a red flag fluttered 
from the Brandenburger Tor, entrance to the Soviet sector. 
There was something doubly strange about this landscape. 
It is strange enough to see a vast city shattered and dead. It 
is far stranger to see one that is briskly and teemingly in- 
habited, amidst its ruins. Berlin seemed convinced that it 
was alive; and, after a few hours there, you began to agree 
that it certainly was. 

The street where I used to live is behind the Nollendorf- 
platz, about ten minutes' walk from the hotel where I was 
staying, f knew that my old landlady, “Frl. Schroeder,” was 
still there; we had been corresponding, but I hadn't told her 
that I was coming to Berlin for fear of a last-minute disap- 
pointment. Even before the war, this was a decayed and for- 


bidding district; but when I saw it again I was really awe« 
struck. The fronts of the buildings were pitted with shrapnel 
and eaten by rot and weather, so that they had that curiously 
blurred, sightless look you see on the face of the Sphinx. 

Only a very young and frivolous foreigner, I thought, 
could have lived in such a place and found it amusing. Hadn t 
there been something youthfully heartless in my enjoyment 
of the spectacle of Berlin in the early thirties, with its poverty, 
its political hatred and its despair? I felt extremely middle- 
aged, that morning. The house next to ours had been hit: on 
the third floor, a handsome tiled stove still stood in the corner 
of a half-room which jutted out over the abyss. With Reverent 
feet, I entered the deep dank courtyard, whose floor t&e sun 
never strikes, and climbed the musty stairs, dark even in 
the daytime, to Frl. Schroeder’s door. The scream she uttered 
on recognizing me must have been heard all over the build- 

She looked wonderful; better, now, in her seventies than 
in her fifties, and considerably slimmer. ( Her only objection 
to my description of her in my stories was that Fd said she 
"waddled.”) Yet she had been through as bad a time as any 
average Berliner: serious illness, poverty — ^forcing her to 
move to this much smaller flat, where she nevertheless had 
to have one lodger in the only spare bedroom and another 
sleeping in the kitchen — ^then the war, and the last awful year 
of bombing, when she and the other tenants lived almost con- 
tinuously in the cellar. "There were forty or fifty of us down 
there. We used to hold each other in our arms and say at 
least we’d all die together. I can tell you, Herr Issyvoo, we 
prayed so much we got quite religious.” 

And then, with the fall of Berlin, came the Russian soldiers, 
searching the houses for arms. Frl. Schroeder thought she had 
nothing to fear until, at the last moment, she discovered to her 
horror that an Italian lodger, who had run away, Had left a 
sporting rifle in his room. Caught wdth it, she would certainly 
have been shot; probably the whole building would have 
been burned dowm. So she and a woman friend took the 


rifle apart, hid the pieces under their clothes and set out 
for the canal, into which they planned to drop them. This 
they finally succeeded in doing, but only after a hair-raising 
encounter with some more Russians, who chased them with 
erotic intentions. 

"Every time I went out on the street, they’d be after me,’’ 
said Erl. Schroeder, not without a certain complacency. "So 
I used to screw up my eyes — ^like this — and make a hump in 
my back, and limp. You ought to have seen me, Herr Issyvoo! 
Even those Russians didn’t want me any more. I looked like a 
regular old hag!” 

By the time she had finished her stories, we were both 
quite ‘exhausted with laughing and crying, and had drunk a 
whole bottle of Liebfraumilch. 

Frl. Schroeder could only give me news of two of my old 
friends. Bobby the bartender had come through the war 
without a scratch, and had gotten married. Otto Nowak, 
now a black-market operator, had shown up recently at the 
flat, wanting^ to buy some carpets. 

"He hadn’t changed one bit. He was very well dressed — 

S uite the fine gentleman. There’s a rich woman somewhere in 
le background, I shouldn’t wonder. Oh, you can rely on 
him to look after himself! And he’s as fresh as ever. I soon 
sent him about his business.” 

As I listened to all this, I marveled, as one always does, at 
the individual’s abihty to be himself and survive, amidst a 
huge undifferentiated military mess. This was Frl. Schroeder’s 
History of World War II — and its only moral was: "Somehow 
or other, life goes on in spite of everything.” 

When we said Goodbye, she gave me the brass dolphin- 
clock which is referred to on the second page of Goodbye to 
Berlin, where I ask, prophetically, how it could ever be de- 
stroyed. It couldn’t, apparently — ^for a bomb-blast had hurled 
it across flie room and only slightly scratched its green marble 
base. It stands now on my writing table in a Californian 
garden — and I like to think that it will survive me, and any- 
ming that may be dropped on this neighborhood, in the near 


or distant future. Meanwhile, I treasure it, as a souvenii' of 
my dear friend and as a symbol of th^t indestructible some- 
in a place and an environment that resists all outward 

The indestructible something — that, I soon realized, was 
what I had had to come back to Berlin to look for. And I 
seemed to sense it almost at once, in the very air of tjie city 
and in the sound of its inhabitants’ voices. Berlin in winter, 
like New York, has an atmosphere that is immensely ex- 
hilarating. Evening after evening, I left the hotel and wan- 
dered from bar to bar, overstimulated and sleepless. And all 
I wanted was to speak and hear German. I felt I could never 
tire of the rich, confident, well-remembered tones of the Ber- 
liner accent; and I was surprised and pleased to discover how 
little the idiom and the slang had altered. Berliners love to 
talk — ^with a blunt directness which is both rude and friendly 
— and even in their grumbling there is a note of pleasure. 

Comparing the two cities — the Berlin I knew in the early 
thirties and the Berlin I revisited in the early fifties — I have 
to admit that the latter is, in many respects, a far more ex- 
citing setting for a novel or a sequence of stories. Life in the 
Berlin of 1952 had an intensely dramatic doubleness. Here 
was a shadow-line cutting a city in half — a frontier between 
two worlds at war — across which people were actually being 
kidnapped, to disappear into prisons or graves. And yet this 
shadow-frontier was being freely crossed in the most hum- 
drum manner every day, on foot, in buses, or in electric trains, 
by thousands of Berliners commuting back and forth between 
tneir work and their homes. Many men and women who lived 
in West Berlin were on the black list of the East German 
police; and, if the Russians had suddenly marched in, they 
couldn’t have hoped to escape. Yet, in this no man’s land 
between the worlds, you heard the usual talk about business 
and sport, the new car, the new apartment, the new lover. 
“My God,” I exclaimed to one of my acquaintances, after 
he had been holding forth on such topics for an hour or 
more, “one would thhik you lived in Minneapolis!” This was 


said, and taken, as a compliment. Berliners, in those days, 
were justifiably a little proud of their sang-froid. They still 
have reason to be. 

How would Mr. Norris have thrived in these troubled 
waters? Would he, perhaps, have found the fish rather too 
large and the current too strong for him? Would Sally Bowles 
have set her cap at the New Rich of the reconstruction period, 
or preferred the American, British and French oflBcers? 
Would Otto Nowak have stuck to the black market, or en- 
tered the circles of the neo-Nazis? Could Bernhard Landauer 
have rebuilt his firm amidst the wreckage — and would he 
have cstred to? All that is not for me to say. The ways of my 
own life have led me elsewhere. But I hope that some young 
foreigner has fallen in love with this later city, and is writing 
what happened or might have happened to him there. 

Christopher Isherwood 
Santa Monica 
July, 1954 



W. H. Auden 


My first impression was that the stranger s eyes were of an 
unusually light blue. They met mine for several blank sec- 
onds, vacant, unmistakably scared. Startled and innocently 
naughty, they half reminded me of an incident I couldn't 
quite place; something which had happened a long time ago, 
to do with the upper fourth form classroom. They were tiie 
eyes of a schoolboy surprised in the act of brealdng one of 
the rules.' Not that I had caught him, apparently, at anything 
except his own thoughts: perhaps he imagined I could read 
them. At any rate, he seemed not to have heard or seen me 
cross the compartment from my comer to his own, for he 
started violently at the sound of my voice; so violently, in- 
deed, that his nervous recoil hit me like a repercussion. In- 
stinctively I took a pace backwards. 

It was exactly as though we had collided with each other 
bodily in the street. We were both confused, both ready to be 
apologetic. Smiling, anxious to reassure him, I repeated my 

T wonder, sir, if you could let me have a match?'' 

Even now, he didn't answer at once. He appeared to be 
engaged in some sort of rapid mental calculation, while his 
fingers, nervously active, sketched a number of flurried ges- 
tures round his waistcoat. For all they conveyed, he might 
equally have been going to undress, to draw a revolver, or 
merely to make sure that I hadn't stolen his money. Then the 
moment ©f agitation passed from his gaze like a little cloud, 
leaving a clear blue sky. At last he had understood what it 
was that I wanted: 

"Yes, yes. Er — certainly. Of course." 


As he spoke he touched his left temple delicately with his 
finger-tips, coughed and suddenly smiled. His smile had great 

"Certainly/* he repeated. ‘With pleasure.” 

Delicately, with finger and thumb, he fished in the waist- 
coat-pocket of his expensive-looking soft grey suit, extracted 
a gold spirit-lighter. His hands were white, small and beau- 
tifully manicured. 

I offered him my cigarettes. 

"Er — ^thank you. Thank you ” 

"After you, sir.” 

"No, no. Please,” 

The tiny flame of the lighter flickered between us, as perish- 
able as the atmosphere which our exaggerated politeness had 
created. The merest breath would have extinguished the one, 
the least incautious gesture or word would have destroyed 
the other. The cigarettes were both lighted now. We sat back 
in our respective places. The stranger was still doubtful of 
me. He was wondering whether he hadn’t gone too far, de- 
livered himself to a bore or a crook. His timid soul was eager 
to retire. I, on my side, had nothing to read. I foresaw a jour- 
ney of utter silence, lasting seven or eight hours. I was deter- 
mined to talk. 

"Do you know what time we arrive at the frontier?” 

Looking back on the conversation, this question does not 
seem to me to have been particularly unusual. It is true that I 
had no interest in the answer; I wanted merely to ask some- 
thing which might start us chatting, and which wasn’t, at the 
same time, either inquisitive or impertinent. Its effect on the 
stranger was remarkable. I had certainly succeeded in arous- 
ing his interest. He gave me a long, odd glance, and his fea- 
tures seemed to stiffen a little. It was the glance of a poker- 
player who guesses suddenly that his opponent holds a 
straight flush and that he had better be careful. At length he 
answered, speaking slowly and with caution: 

"I’m afraid I couldn’t teU you exactly. In about an hour’s 
time, I believe ” 


His glance, now vacant for a moment, was clouded again. 
An unpleasant thought seemed to tease him like a wasp; he 
moved his head sligiitly to avoid it. Then he added, with sur- 
prising petulance: 

"All these frontiers . . . such a horrible nuisance.” 

I wasn’t quite sure how to take this. The thought crossed 
my mind that he was perhaps some kind of mild international- 
ist; a member of the League of Nations Union. I ventured 

"They .ought to be done away with.” 

“I quite agree with you. They ought, indeed.” 

There was no mistaking his warmth. He had a large blunt 
fleshy nose and a chin which seemed to have slipped side- 
ways. It was like a broken concertina. When he spoke, it 
jerked crooked in the most curious fashion and a deep cleft 
dimple like a wound surprisingly appeared in the side of it. 
Above his ripe red cheeks, Ids forehead was sculpturally 
white, like marble. A queerly cut fringe of dark grey hair lay 
across it, compact, thick and heavy. After a moment s exam- 
ination, I realized, with extreme interest, that he was wearing 
a wig. 

“Particularly,” I followed up my success, “all these red-tape 
formab'ties; the passport examination, and so forth.” 

But no. This wasn’t right. I saw at once from his expression 
that I’d somehow managed to strike a new, disturbing note. 
We were speaking similar but distinct languages. This time, 
however, the stranger’s reaction was not mistrust. He asked, 
with a puzzling air of frankness and unconcealed curiosity: 

“Have you ever had trouble here yourself?” 

It wasn’t so much the question which I found odd, as the 
tone in which he asked it. I smiled to hide my mystification. 

“Oh no. Quite the reverse. Often they don’t bother to open 
anything; and as for your passport, they hardly look at it.” 

“I’m so‘*glad to hear you say that.” 

He must have seen from my face what I was thinking, for 
he added hastily: “It may seem absurd of me, but I do so hate 
being fussed and bothered.” 


“Of course. I quite understand.’" 

I grinned, for I had just arrived at a satisfactory explana- 
tion of his behaviour. The old boy was engaged in a little 
innocent private smuggling. Probably a piece of silk for his 
wife or a box of cigars for a friend. And now, of course, he 
was beginning to feel scared. Certainly he looked prosperous 
enough to pay any amount of duty. The rich have s-trange 

“You haven’t crossed this frontier before, then?” I felt 
kindly and protective and superior. I would cheer 'him up, 
and, if things came to the worst, prompt him with some plau- 
sible lie to soften the heart of the customs officer. 

“Of recent years, no. I usually travel by Belgium. For a 
variety of reasons. Yes.” Again he looked vague, paused and 
solemnly scratched his chin. All at once, something seemed 
to rouse him to awareness of my presence: “Perhaps, at this 
stage in the proceedings, I ought to introduce myself. Arthur 
Norris, Gent. Or shall we say : Of independent means?” He 
tittered nervously, exclaimed in alarm: “Don’t get up, I beg.” 

It was too far to shake hands without moving. We com- 
promised by a polite seated bow from the waist, 

“My name’s William Bradshaw,” I said. 

“Dear me, you’re not by any chance one of the Suffolk 

“I suppose I am. Before the War, we used to live near 

“Did you really, now? Did you indeed? I used at one time 
to go and stay with a Mrs. Hope-Lucas. She had a lovely 
place near Matlock. She was a Miss Bradshaw before her 

“Yes, that’s right. She was my great-aunt Agnes. She died 
about seven years ago.” 

“Did she? Dear, dear. I’m very sorry to hear that. ... Of 
course, I knew her when I was quite a young man] and she 
was a middle-aged lady then. I’m speaking now, mind you, 
of ’ninety-eight.” 

All this time I was covertly studying his wig. I had never 


seen one so cleverly made before. At the back of the skull, 
where it was brushed in with his own hair, it was wonderfully 
matched. Only the parting betrayed it at once, and even this 
would have passed muster at the distance of three or four 

“Well, weU,” observed Mr. Norris. “Dear me, what a very 
small place the world is.” 

“You never met my mother, I suppose? Or my uncle, the 

I was. quite resigned, now, to playing the relationships 
game. It was boring but unexacting, and could be continued 
for hours. Already I saw a whole chain of easy moves ahead 
of me — ^uncles, aunts, cousins, their marriages and their prop- 
erties, death duties, mortgages, sales. Then on to public 
school and university, comparing notes on food, exchanging 
anecdotes about masters, famous matches and celebrated 
rows. I knew the exact tone to adopt. 

But, to my surprise, Mr. Norris didn’t seem to want to play 
this game, after all. He answered hurriedly: 

“Tm afraid not. No. Since the War, I Ve rather lost touch 
with my English friends. My affairs have taken me abroad a 
good deal.” 

The word “abroad” caused both of us naturally to look out 
of the window. Holland was slipping past our viewpoint with 
the smoothness of an after-dinner dream: a placid swampy 
landscape bounded by an electric tram travelling along the 
wall of a dike. 

“Do you know this country well?” I asked. Since I had 
noticed the wig, I found myself somehow unable to go on 
calling him sir. And anyhow, if he wore it to make himself 
look younger, it was both tactless and unkind to insist thus 
upon the difference between our ages. 

“I know Amsterdam pretty well.” Mr. Norris rubbed his 
chin with a nervous, fmtive movement. He had a trick of 
doing this and of opening his mouth in a kind of snarling 
grimace, quite without ferocity, like an old lion in a cage. 
“Pretty well, yes.” 


“I should like to go there very much. It must be so quiet 
and peaceful.” 

‘‘On the contrary, I can assure you that it s one of the most 
dangerous cities in Europe.” 


“Yes. Deeply attached as I am to Amsterdam, I shall always 
maintain that it has three fatal drawbacks. In the first place, 
the stairs are so steep in many of the houses that it requires a 
professional mountaineer to ascend them without risking 
heart failure or a broken neck. Secondly, there are the cyclists. 
They positively overrun the town, and appear to make it a 
point of honour to ride without the faintest consideration for 
human life. I had an exceedingly narrow escape only this 
morning. And, thirdly, there are tiie canals. In summer, you 
know . . . most insanitary. Oh, most insanitary. I can t tell 
you what Tve sufEered. For weeks on end I was never without 
a sore throat.” 

By the time we had reached Bentheim, Mr. Norris had 
delivered a lecture on the disadvantages of most of the chief 
European cities. I was astonished to find how much he had 
travelled. He had suffered from rheumatics in Stockholm and 
draughts in Kaunas; in Riga he had been bored, in Warsaw 
treated with extreme discourtesy, in Belgrade he had been 
unable to obtain his favourite brand of tooth-paste. In Rome 
he had been annoyed by insects, in Madrid by beggars, in 
Marseilles by taxi-horns. In Bucharest he had had an exceed- 
ingly unpleasant experience with a water-closet. Constanti- 
nople he had found expensive and lacking in taste. The only 
two cities of which he greatly approved were Paris and 
Athens. Athens particularly. Athens was his spiritual 

By now, the train had stopped. Pale stout men in blue 
uniforms strolled up and down the platform with that faintly 
sinister air of leisure which invests tibe movements of oflScials 
at frontier stations. They were not unlike prison warders. It 
was as if we might none of us be allowed to travel any farther. 


Far down the corridor of the coach a voice echoed: **Deutsche 

"I think,” said Mr. Norris, smiling urbanely at me, “that one 
of my pleasantest memories is of the mornings I used to spend 
pottering about those quaint old streets behind the Temple of 

He was extremely nervous. His delicate white hand fiddled 
incessantly with the signet ring on his little finger; his uneasy 
blue eyes kept squinting rapid glances into the corridor. His 
voice rang false; high-pitched in archly forced gaiety, it re- 
sembled die voice of a character in a pre-war drawing-room 
comedy* He spoke so loudly that the people in the next com- 
partment must certainly be able to hear him. 

“One comes, quite unexpectedly, upon the most fascinat- 
ing little corners. A single column standing in the middle of a 
rubbish-heap . . .” 

^'Deutsche Pass-Kontrolle. All passports, please.” 

An oflScial had appeared in the doorway of our compart- 
ment. His voice made Mr. Norris give a slight but visible 
jump. Anxious to allow him time to pull himself together, I 
hastily oflFered my own passport. As I had expected, it was 
barely glanced at. 

“I am travelling to Berlin,” said Mr. Norris, handing over 
his passport with a charming smile; so charming, indeed, that 
it seemed a little overdone. The official did not react. He 
merely grunted, turned over the pages with considerable in- 
terest, and then, taking the passport out into the corridor, 
held it up to the light of the window. 

“It s a remarkable fact,” said Mr. Norris, conversationally, 
to me, “that nowhere in classical literature will you find any 
reference to the Lycabettos Hill.” 

I was amazed to see what a state he was in; his fingers 
twitched and his voice was scarcely under control. There 
were actually beads of sweat on his alabaster forehead. If this 
was what he called "Ibeing fussed,” if these were the agonies 
he suffered whenever he broke a by-law, it was no wonder 
that his nerves had turned him prematurely bald. He shot an 


instant's glance of acute misery into the corridor. Another 
official had arrived. They were examining the passport to- 
gether, with their backs turned towards us. By what was 
obviously an heroic effort Mr. Norris managed to maintain 
his chattily informative tone. 

“So far as we know, it appears to have been overrun with 

The other official had got the passport now. He looked as 
though he were going to take it away with him. His colleague 
was referring to a small black shiny notebook. Raising his 
head he asked abruptly: 

“You are at present residing at Courbierestrasse 168 ?” 

For a moment I thought Mr. Norris was going to faint. 

“Er— yes ...lam....” 

Like a bird with a cobra, his eyes were fastened upon his 
interrogator in helpless fascination. One might have supposed 
that he expected to be arrested on the spot. Actually, all that 
happened was that the official made a note in his book, 
grunted again, and turning on his heel went on to the next 
compartment. His colleague handed the passport back to Mr. 
Norris and said: “Thank you, sir,” saluted politely and fol- 
lowed him. 

Mr. Norris sank back against the hard wooden seat with a 
deep sigh. For a moment he seemed incapable of speech. 
Taking out a big white silk handkerchief, he began to dab at 
his forehead, being careful not to disarrange his wig. 

“I wonder if you'd be so very kind as to open the window,” 
he said at lengA, in a faint voice. “It seems to have got dread- 
fully stuffy in here all of a sudden.” 

I hastened to do so. 

“Is there anything I can fetch you?” I asked. “A glass of 

He feebly waved the offer aside. “Most good of you . . . 
No. I shah be all right in a moment. My heart isn't quite what 
it was.” He sighed: “I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. 
All this travelling . . . very bad for me.” 

“You know, you really shouldn't upset yourself so.” I felt 


more than ever protective towards him at that moment. This 
affectionate protectiveness, which he so easily and danger- 
ously inspired in me, was to colour all our future dealings. 
"You let yourself be annoyed by trifles.” 

"You call that a trifle!” he exclaimed, in rather pathetic 

"Of fourse. It was bound to have been put right in a few 
minutes, anyhow. The man simply mistook you for somebody 
else of the same name.” 

‘Tou really think so?^' He was childishly eager to be reas- 

"What other possible explanation is there?” 

Mr. Norris didn’t seem so certain of this. He said dubiously: 
"Well — er — none, I suppose.” 

"Besides, it often happens, you know. The most innocent 
people get mistaken for famous jewel thieves. They undress 
them and search them all over. Fancy if they’d done that to 

"Really!” Mr. Norris giggled. "The mere thought brings a 
blush to my modest cheek.” 

We both laughed. I was glad that I had managed to cheer 
him up so successfully. But what on earth, I wondered, would 
happen when the customs examiner arrived? For this, if I was 
right about the smuggled presents, was the real cause of all 
his nervousness. If the little misunderstanding about the pass- 
port had upset him so much, the customs officer would most 
certainly give him a heart attack. I wondered if I hadn’t bet- 
ter mention this straight out and offer to hide the things in 
my own suitcase; but he seemed so blissfully unconscious of 
any approaching trouble that I hadn’t the heart to disturb 

I was quite wrong. The customs examination, when it came, 
seemed positively to give Norris pleasure. He showed not the 
slightest signs of uneasiness; nor was anything dutiable dis- 
covered in his luggage. In fluent German he laughed and 
joked with the official over a large bottle of Coty perfume: 
"Oh, yes, it’s for my personal use, I can assme you. I wouldn’t 


part with it for the world. Do let me give you a drop on your 
handkerchief. It’s so deliciously refreshing.” 

At length it was all over. The train clanked slowly forward 
into Germany. The dining-car attendant came down the cor- 
ridor, sounding his little gong, 

“And now, my dear boy,” said Mr. Norris, “after these 
alarms and excursions and your most valuable moral sup- 
port, for which Tm more grateful than I can tell you, I hope 
you’ll do me the honour of being my guest at lunch.” 

I thanked h'm and said that I should be delighted. 

When we were seated comfortably in the restaurant-car, 
Mr. Norris ordered a small cognac: 

“I have made it a general rule never to drink before meals, 
but there are times when the occasion seems to demand it.” 

The soup was served. He took one spoonful, then called the 
attendant and addressed him in a tone of mild reproach. 

“Surely you’ll agree that there’s too much onion?” he asked 
anxiously. “Will you do me a personal favour? I should like 
you to taste it for yourself.” 

“Yes, sir,” said the attendant, who was extremely busy, and 
whisked away the plate with faintly insolent deference. Mr. 
Norris was pained. 

“Did you see that? He wouldn’t taste it. He wouldn’t admit 
there was anytliing wrong. Dear me, how very obstinate some 
people are!” 

He forgot this little disappointment in human nature 
within a few moments, however. He had begun to study the 
wine list witli great care. 

“Let me see . . . Let me see , . . Would you be prepared 
to contemplate a hock? You would? It’s a lottery, mind you. 
On a train one must always be prepared for the worst. I think 
we’ll risk it, shall we?” 

The hock arrived and was a success. Mr. Norris had not 
tasted such good hock, he told me, since his lunch with the 
Swedish Ambassador in Vienna last year. And there were 
kidneys, his favourite dish. “Dear me,” he remarked with 
pleasure, “I find I’ve got quite an appetite. ... If you want 


to get kidneys perfectly cooked you should go to Budapest. 
It was a revelation to me. ... I must say these are really 
delicious, don't you agree? Really quite delicious. At first I 
thought I tasted that odious red pepper, but it was merely 
my overwrought imagination.” He called the attendant: "Will 
you please give the chef my compliments and say that I 
should like to congratulate him on a most excellent lunch? 
Thank you. And now bring me a cigar.” Cigars were brought, 
sniffed at, weighed between the finger and thumb. Mr. Nor- 
ris finally* selected the largest on the tray: "What, my dear 
boy, you don’t smoke them? Oh, but you should. Well, well, 
perhaps you have other vices?” 

By this time he was in the best of spirits. 

"I must say the older I get the more I come to value the 
little comforts of this life. As a general rule, I make a point of 
travelling first class. It always pays. One gets treated with so 
much more consideration. Take to-day, for instance. If I 
hadn’t been in a third-class compartment, they’d never have 
dreamed of bothering me. There you have the German ofiB- 
cial all over. ‘A race of non-commissioned officers,’ didn’t 
somebody call them? How very good that is! How true. . . .” 

Mr. Norris picked his teeth for a few moments in thought- 
ful silence. 

"My generation was brought up to regard luxury from an 
aesthetic standpoint. Since the War, people don’t seem to feel 
that any more. Too often they are merely gross. They take 
their pleasures coarsely, don’t you find? At times, one feels 
guilty, oneself, with so much unemployment and distress 
everywhere. The conditions in Berlin are very bad. Oh, very 
bad ... as no doubt you yourself know. In my small way, I 
do what I can to help, but it’s such a drop in the ocean.” Mr. 
Norris sighed and touched his napkin with his lips. 

"And here we are, riding in the lap of luxury. The social 
reformers would condenm us, no doubt. All the same, I sup- 
pose if somebody didn’t use this dining-car, we should have 
all these employees on the dole as well. . . . Dear me, dear 
me. Things are so very complex, nowadays.” 


We parted at the Zoo Station. Mr. Norris held my hand for 
a long time amidst the jostle of arriving passengers. 

"Awf Wiedersehen, my dear boy. Auf Wiedersehen. I won’t 
say good-bye because I hope that we shall be seeing each 
other in the very near future. Any little discomforts I may 
have suffered on that odious journey have been amply repaid 
by the great pleasure of making your acquaintance. And now 
I wonder if you'd care to have tea with me at my flat one day 
this week? Shall we make it Saturday? Here’s my card. Do 
please say you’ll come.” 

I promised that I would. 


Mr. Norris had two front doors to his flat. They stood side 
by side. Both had little round peep-holes in the centre panel 
and brightly polished knobs and brass nameplates. On the 
left-hand plate was engraved: Arthur Norris, Private, And 
on the right-hand: Arthur Norris. Export and Import. 

After a moment’s hesitation, I pressed the button of the 
left-hand bell. The bell was startlingly loud; it must have been 
clearly audible all over the flat. Nevertheless, nothing hap- 
pened. No sound came from within. I was just about to ring 
again when I became aware that an eye was regarding me 
through the peep-hole in the door. How long it had been 
there, I didn’t know. I felt embarrassed and uncertain 
whether to stare the eye out of its hole or merely pretend that 
I hadn’t seen it. Ostentatiously, I examined the ceiling, the 
floor, the walls; then ventured a furtive glance to make sure 
that it had gone. It hadn’t. Vexed, I turned my back on the 
door altogedier. Nearly a minute passed, 


When, finally, I did turn round it was because the other 
door, the Export and Import door, had opened. A young man 
stood on the threshold. 

“Is Mr. Norris in?” I asked. 

The young man eyed me suspiciously. He had watery 
light yellow eyes and a blotched complexion the colour of 
porridge. His head was huge and round, set awkwardly on a 
short plump body. He wore a smart lounge suit and patent- 
leather shoes. I didn’t like the look of him at all. 

“Have you an appointment?” 

“Yes.” My tone was extremely curt. 

At once, the young man s face curved into oily smiles. “Oh, 
it’s Mr. Bradshaw? One moment, if you please.” 

And, to my astonishment, he closed the door in my face, 
only to reappear an instant later at the left-hand door, stand- 
ing aside for me to enter the flat. This behaviour seemed all 
the more extraordinary because, as I noticed immediately I 
was inside, the Private side of the entrance hall was divided 
from the Export side only by a thick hanging curtain. 

“Mr. Norris wishes me to say that he will be with you in 
one moment,” said the big-headed young man, treading deli- 
cately across the thick carpet on the toes of his patent-leather 
shoes. He spoke very softly, as if he were afraid of being over- 
heard. Opening the door of a large sitting-room, he silently 
motioned me to take a chair, and withdrew. 

Left alone, I looked round me, slightly mystified. Every- 
thing was in good taste, the furniture, the carpet, the colour 
scheme. But the room was curiously without character. It 
was like a room on the stage or in the window of a high-class 
furnishing store; elegant, expensive, discreet. I had expected 
Mr. Norris’ background to be altogether more exotic; some- 
thing Chinese would have suited him, with golden and scar- 
let dragons. 

The young man had left the door ajar. From somewhere 
just outside I heard him say, presumably into a telephone: 
“The gentleman is here, sir.” And now, with even greater 
distinctness, Mr. Norris’ voice was audible as he replied, from 


behind a door in the opposite wall of the sitting-room: “Oh, 
is he? Thank you.” 

I wanted to laugh. This little comedy was so unnecessary 
as to seem slightly sinister. A moment later Mr. Norris him- 
self came into the room, nervously rubbing his manicured 
hands together. 

“My dear boy, this is indeed an honour! Delighted to wel- 
come you under the shadow of my humble roof -tree.” 

He didn’t look well, I thought. His face wasn’t so rosy to- 
day, and there were rings under his eyes. He sat down for a 
moment in an armchair, but rose again immediately, as if he 
were not in the mood for sitting still. He must Have been 
wearing a difiFerent wig, for the joins in this one showed as 
plain as murder. 

“You’d like to see over the flat, I expect?” he asked, nerv- 
ously touching his temples with the tips of his fingers. 

“I should, very much.” I smiled, puzzled because Mr. Nor- 
ris was obviously in a great hurry about something. With 
fussy haste, he took me by the elbow, steering me towards the 
door in the opposite wall, from which he himself had just 

“We’ll go this way first, yes.” 

But hardly had we taken a couple of steps when there was 
a sudden outburst of voices from the entrance hall. 

“You can’t. It’s impossible,” came the voice of the young 
man who had ushered me into the flat. And a strange, loud, 
angry voice answered: “That’s a dirty lie! I teU you he’s 

Mr. Norris stopped as suddenly as if he’d been shot. “Oh 
dear!” he whispered, hardly audible. “Oh dear!” Stricken with 
indecision and alarm, he stood still in the middle of the room, 
as though desperately considering which way to turn. His 
grip on my arm tightened, either for support or merely to 
implore me to keep quiet. 

“Mr. Norris wiB not be back until late this evening.” The 
young man’s voice was no longer apologetic, but firm* ’'It’s 
no good your waiting.” 


He seemed to have shifted his position and to be just out- 
side, perhaps barring the way into the sitting-room. And, the 
next moment, the sitting-room door was quietly shut, with a 
click of a key being turned. We were locked in. 

"He's in there!” shouted the strange voice, loud and menac- 
ing. There was a scuflEing, followed by a heavy thud, as if the 
young njan had been flung violently against the door. The 
thud roused Mr. Norris to action. With a single, surprisingly 
agile movement, he dragged me after him into the adjoining 
room. We ^tood there together in the doorway, ready, at any 
moment, for a further retreat. I could hear him panting heav- 
ily at my :side. 

Meanwhile, the stranger was rattling the sitting-room door 
as if he meant to burst it open: “You damned swindler!” he 
shouted, in a terrible voice. “You wait till I get my hands on 

It was all so very extraordinary that I quite forgot to feel 
frightened, although it might well be supposed that the per- 
son on the other side of the door was either raving drunk or 
insane. I cast a questioning glance at Mr. Norris, who whis- 
pered reassuringly: “He'll go away in a minute, I think.” The 
curious thing was that, although scared, he didn't seem at all 
surprised by what was taking place. It might have been im- 
agined, from his tone, that he was referring to an unpleasant 
but frequently recurring natural phenomenon; a violent 
thunder-storm, for instance. His blue eyes were warily, un- 
easily alert. His hand rested on the door handle, prepared to 
slam it shut at an instant's notice. 

But Mr. Norris had been right. The stranger soon got tired 
of rattling the sitting-room door. With an explosion of Berlin 
curses, his voice retreated. A moment later, we heard the out- 
side door of the flat close with a tremendous bang. 

Mr. Norris drew a long breath of relief. “I knew it couldn't 
last long,” he remarked with satisfaction. Abstractedly pull- 
ing an envelope out of his pocket, he began fanning himself 
with it. “So upsetting,” he murmured. “Some people seem to 
be utterly lacking in consideration . . . My dear boy, I really 


must apologize for this disturbance. Quite unforeseen, I as- 
sure you.” 

I laughed. “That s all right. It was rather exciting.” 

Mr. Norris seemed pleased. “Tm very glad you take it so 
lightly. It s so rare to find anyone of your age who’s free from 
these ridiculous bourgeois prejudices. I feel that we have a 
great deal in common.” 

“Yes, I think we have,” I said, without, however, being 
quite clear as to which particular prejudices he found ridic- 
ulous or how they applied to the angry visitor. 

“In the course of my long and not uneventful life, I can 
truthfully say that for sheer stupidity and obstructiveness, I 
have never met anyone to equal the small Berlin tradesman. 
I’m not speaking, now, mind you, of the larger firms. They’re 
always reasonable: more or less . . 

He was evidently in a confidential mood and might have 
imparted a good deal of interesting information, had not the 
sitting-room door now been unlocked and the young man 
with the large head reappeared on the threshold. The sight 
of him seemed to disconnect instantly the thread of Mr. Nor- 
ris’ ideas. His manner became at once apologetic, apprehen- 
sive and vague, as though he and I had been caught doing 
something socially ridicmous which could only be passed off 
by an elaborate display of etiquette. 

“Allow me to introduce; Herr Schmidt — Mr. Bradshaw. 
Herr Schmidt is my secretary and my right hand. Only, in 
this case,” Mr. Norris tittered nervously, “I can assure you 
that the right hand knows perfectly well what the left hand 

With several small nervous coughs he attempted to trans- 
late this joke into German. Herr Schmidt, who clearly didn’t 
understand it, did not even bother to pretend to be amused. 
He gave me a private smile, however, which invited me to 
join him in tolerant contemptuous patronage of his employ- 
er s attempts at humour. I didn’t respond. I had taken a dis- 
like to Schmidt already. He saw this, and, at the moment, I 
was pleased that he saw it. 


"Can I speak to you alone a moment?” he said to Mr. 
Norris, in a tone which was obviously intended to insult me. 
His tie, collar and lounge suit were as neat as ever. I could 
see no sign whatever of the violent handling he had appar- 
ently just received. 

"Yes. Er — ^yes. Certainly. Of course.” Mr. Norris’ tone was 
petulant but meek. "You’ll excuse me, my dear boy, a mo- 
ment? I Kate to keep my guests waiting, but this litttle matter 
is rather urgent.” 

He burned across the sitting-room and disappeared 
through a third door, followed by Schmidt. Schmidt was 
going to tell him the details of the row, of course. I consid- 
ered the possibility of eaves-dropping, but decided that it 
would be too risky. Anyhow, I should be able to get it out of 
Mr. Norris one day, when I knew him better. Mr. Norris did 
not give one the impression of being a discreet man. 

I looked round me and found that the room in which I had 
all this time been standing was a bedroom. It was not very 
large, and the available space was almost entirely occupied 
by a double bed, a bulky wardrobe and an elaborate dress- 
ing-table with a winged mirror, on which were ranged bot- 
tles of perfume, lotions, antiseptics, pots of face cream, skin 
food, powder and ointment enough to stock a chemist s shop. 
I furtively opened a drawer in the table. I found nothing in 
it but two lipsticks and an eyebrow pencil. Before I could 
investigate further, I heard the door into the sitting-room 

Mr. Norris re-entered fussily. “And now, after this most 
regrettable interlude, let us continue our personally con- 
ducted tour of the royal apartments. Before you, you behold 
my chaste couch; I had it specially made for me in London. 
German beds are so ridiculously small, I always think. It s 
fitted with the best spiral springs. As you observe. I’m con- 
servative enough to keep to my English sheets and blankets. 
The German feather-bags give me the most horrible night- 

He talked rapidly with a great show of animation, but I 


saw at once that the conversation with his secretary had de- 
pressed him. It seemed more tactful not to refer again to the 
stranger’s visit. Mr. Norris evidently wanted the subject to be 
dropped. Fishing a key out of his waistcoat pocket, he un- 
locked and threw open the door of the wardrobe. 

‘I’ve always made it a rule to have a suit for every day of 
the week. Perhaps you’ll tell me I’m vain, but you’^ be sur- 
prised if you know what it has meant to me, at critical mo- 
ments of my life, to be dressed exactly in accordance with 
my mood. It gives one such confidence, I think.” 

Beyond the bedroom was a dining-room. 

“Please admire the chairs,” said Mr. Norris, and added — 
rather strangely as I thought at the time; “I may tell you that 
this suite has been valued at four thousand marks.” 

From the dining-room, a passage led to the kitchen, where 
I was introduced to a dour-faced young man who was busy 
preparing the tea. 

“This is Hermann, my major-domo. He shares the distinc- 
tion, with a Chinese boy I had years ago in Shanghai, of being 
the best cook I have ever employed,” 

“What were you doing in Shanghai?” 

Mr. Norris looked vague. “Ah. What is one ever doing 
anywhere? Fishing in troubled waters, I suppose one might 
call it. Yes . . . I’m speaking now, mind you, of nineteen 
hundred and three. Things are very different nowadays. I’m 

We returned to the sitting-room, followed by Hermann 
with the tray. 

“WeU, well,” observed Mr. Norris, taking his cup, “we live 
in stirring times; tea-stirring times.” 

I grinned awkwardly. It was only later, when I knew him 
better, that I realized that these aged jokes (he had a whole 
repertoire of them) were not even intended to be laughed at. 
They belonged merely to certain occasions in the routine of 
his day. Not to have made one of them would have been like 
omitting to say a grace. 


Having thus performed his ritual, Mr. Norris relapsed into 
silence. He must be worrying about the noisy caller again. As 
usual, when left to my own devices, I began studying his wig. 
I must have been staring very rudely, for he looked up sud- 
denly and saw the direction of my gaze. He startled me by 
asking simply: 

"Is it crooked?” 

I blushed scarlet. I felt terribly embarrassed. 

"Just a tiny bit, perhaps.” 

Then I Jau2:hed outright. We both laughed. At that mo- 
ment I could have embraced him. We had referred to the 
thing at last, and our relief was so great that we were like two 
people who have just made a mutual declaration of love, 

"It wants to go a shade more to the left,” I said, reaching 
out a helpful hand. "May I . . .” 

But this was going too far. "My God, no!” cried Mr. Norris, 
drawing back with involuntary dismay. An instant later he 
was himself again, and smiled ruefully. 

"I’m afraid that this is one of those — er — mysteries of the 
toilet which are best performed in the privacy of the boudoir. 
I must ask you to excuse me.” 

"I’m afraid this one doesn’t fit very well,” he continued, 
returning from his bedroom some minutes later. "I’ve never 
been fond of it. It’s only my second best ” 

"How many have you got, then?” 

"Three altogether.” Mr. Norris examined his finger-nails 
with a modestly proprietary air. 

"And how long do they last?” 

"A very short time, Tm sorry to say. I’m obliged to get a 
new one every eighteen months or so, and they’re exceedingly 

*How much, roughly?” 

"Between three and four hundred marks.” He was seriously 
informative. "The man who makes them for me lives in Koln 
and I’m obliged to go there myself to get them fitted.” 

"How tiresome for you.” 


“It is, indeed.” 

“Tell me just one more thing. However do you manage to 
make it stay on?” 

“There's a small patch with glue on it.” Mr. Norris lowered 
his voice a little, as though this were the greatest secret of 
all: “Just here.” 

“And you find that's sufficient?” 

“For die ordinary wear and tear of daily life, yes. All the 
same. I’m bound to admit that there have been various oc- 
casions in my chequered career, occasions which .1 blush to 
think of, when all has been lost.” 

After tea, Mr. Norris showed me his study, which lay be- 
hind the door on the other side of the sitting-room. 

“I've got some very valuable books here,” he told me. “Some 
very amusing books.” His tone coyly underlined the words. 
I stooped to read the titles: The Girl with the Golden Whip, 
Miss Smith's Torture-Chamber, Imprisoned at a Girls' 
School, or The Private Dairy of Montague Dawson, Flagel- 
lant. This was my first glimpse of Mr. Norris' sexual tastes. 

“One day I'll show you some of the other treasures of my 
collection,” he added archly, “when I feel I know you well 

He led the way through into a little office. This, I realized, 
was where the unwelcome visitor must have been waiting at 
the time of my own arrival. It was strangely bare. There was 
a chair, a table, a filing cabinet, and, on die wall, a large map 
of Germany. Schmidt was nowhere to be seen. 

“My secretary has gone out,” Mr. Norris explained, his un- 
easy eyes wandering over the walls with a certain distaste, as 
if this room had unpleasant associations for him. “He took the 
typewriter to be cleaned. This was what he wanted to see 
me about, just now.” 

This lie seemed so entirely pointiess that I felt rather of- 
fended. I didn't expect him to confide in me, yet; but he 
needn't treat me like an imbecile. I felt absolved from any 
lingering scruples about asking pointed questions, and said, 
widi frank inquisitiveness: 


“What is it, exactly, that you export and import?” 

He took it quite calmly. His smile was disingenuous and 

“My dear boy, what, in my time, have I not exported? I 
think I may claim to have exported everything which is — er 
— exportable.” 

He pulled out one of the drawers of the filing cabinet with 
the gesture of a house agent. ‘TThe latest model, you see.” 

The drawer was quite empty. “Tell me one of the things 
you export,” I insisted, smiling. 

Mr. Norris appeared to consider. 

“Clocks,” he said at length. 

“And where do you export them to?” 

He rubbed his chin with a nervous, furtive movement 
This time, my teasing had succeeded in its object. He was 
flustered and mildly vexed. 

“Really, my dear boy, if you want to go into a lot of tech- 
nical explanations, you must ask my secretary. I haven't the 
time to attend to them. I leave all the more — er — sordid de- 
tails entirely in his hands. Yes . . 


A FE^v days after Christmas I rang up Arthur (we called each 
other by our Christian names now) and suggested that we 
should spend Silvesterabend together. 

“My dear William, I shall be delighted, of course. Most de- 
lighted ... I can imagine no more charming or auspicious 
company in which to celebrate the birth of this peculiarly ill- 
omened New Year, I’d ask you to have dinner with me, but 


unfortunately I have a previous engagement. Now where do 
you suggest we shall meet?’’ 

“What about the Troika?” 

“Very well, my dear boy. I put myself in your hands en- 
tirely. I fear I shall feel rather out of place amidst so many 
young faces. A greybeard with one foot in the tomb. . . . 
Somebody say ‘No, no!’ Nobody does. How cruel Youth is. 
Never mind. Such is life. . . 

When once Arthur had started telephoning it was difficult 
to stop him. I used often to lay the receiver on the table for 
a few minutes knowing that when I picked it up again he 
would still be talking away as fast as ever. To-day, however, I 
had a pupil waiting for an English lesson and had to cut him 

“Very well. In the Troika. At eleven.” 

“That will suit me admirably. In the meantime, I shall 
be careful what I eat, go to bed early and generally prepare 
myself to enjoy an evening of Wein, Weib, und Gesang. More 
particularly Wein. Yes. God bless you, dear boy. Good-bye.” 

On New Year’s Eve I had supper at home with my land- 
lady and the other lodgers. I must have been already drunk 
when I arrived at the Troika, because I remember getting a 
shock when I looked into the cloakroom mirror and found 
that I was wearing a false nose. The place was crammed. It 
was difficult to say who was dancing and who was merely 
standing up. After hunting about for some time, I came upon 
Arthur in a comer. He was sitting at a table with another, 
rather younger gentleman who wore an eyeglass and had 
sleek dark hair. 

“Ah, here you are, WilHam, We were beginning to fear 
that you’d deserted us. May I introduce two of my most 
valued friends to each other? Mr. Bradshaw — Baron von 

The Baron, who was fishy and suave, inclined his head. 
Leaning towards me, like a cod swimming up through water, 
he asked; 


“Excuse me. Do you know Naples?” 

“No. IVe never been there.” 

“Forgive me. Tm sorry. I had the feeling that we’d met each 
other before.” 

“Perhaps so,” I said politely, wondering how he could smile 
without dropping his eyeglass. It was rimless and ribbonless 
and looked as though it had been screwed into his pink weU- 
shaved face by means of some horrible surgical operation. 

“Perhaps you were at Juan-les-Pins last year?” 

“No, Tm afraid I wasn’t.” 

“Yes, I see.” He smiled in polite regret. “In that case I must 
beg your pardon.” 

“Don’t mention it,” I said. We both laughed very heartily. 
Arthur, evidently pleased that I was making a good impres- 
sion on the Baron, laughed too. I drank a glass of champagne 
off at a gulp. A three-man band was playing: Gmss’ mir mein 
Hawai, ich bleiV Dir treu, ich hab* Dich gerne. The dancers, 
locked frigidly together, swayed in partial-paralytic rhythms 
under a huge sunshade suspended from the ceiling and os- 
cillating gently through cigarette smoke and hot rising air. 

“Don’t you find it a trifle stuffy in here?” Arthur asked anx- 

In the windows were bottles filled with coloured liquids 
brilliantly illuminated from beneath, magenta, emerald, ver- 
milion. They seemed to be lighting up the whole room. The 
cigarette smoke made my eyes smart until the tears ran down 
my face. The music kept d)’ing away, then surging up fear- 
fully loud. I passed my hand down the shiny black ofl-cloth 
curtains in the alcove behind my chair. Oddly enough, they 
were quite cold. The lamps were like alpine cowbells. And 
there was a fluffy white monkey perched above the bar. In 
another moment, when I had drunk exactly the right amount 
of champagne, I should have a vision. I took a sip. And now, 
with extreme clarity, without passion or malice, I saw what 
Life really is. It had something, I remember, to do with the 
revolving sunshade. Yes, I murmured to myself, let them 
dance. They are dancing. I am glad. 


“You know, I like this place. Extraordinarily,"" I told the 
Baron with enthusiasm. He did not seem surprised. 

Arthur was solemnly stifling a belch. 

“Dear Arthur, don’t look so sad. Are you tired?"" 

“No, not tired, William. Only a little contemplative, per- 
haps. Such an occasion as this is not without its solemn aspect. 
You young people are quite right to enjoy yourselve§. I don’t 
blame you for a moment. One has one’s memories.” 

“Memories are the most precious things we have,” said the 
Baron with approval. As intoxication proceeded, his face 
seemed slowly to disintegrate. A rigid area of paralysis 
formed round the monocle. The monocle was holding his face 
together. He gripped it desperately with his facial muscles, 
cocking his disengaged eyebrow, his mouth sagging slightly 
at the comers, minute beads of perspiration appearing along 
the parting of his thin, satin-smooth dark hair. Catching my 
eye, he swam up towards me, to the surface of the element 
which seemed to separate us. 

“Excuse me, please. May I ask you something?” 

“By all means.” 

“Have you read Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne?” 

“Yes, I have.” 

“And tell me, please, how did you like it?” 

“Very much indeed.” 

“Then I am very glad. Yes, so did I. Very much.” 

And now we were all standing up. What had happened? 
It was midnight. Our glasses touched. 

“Cheerio,” said the Baron, with the air of one who makes a 
particularly fehcitous quotation. 

“Allow me,” said Arthur, “to wish you both every success 
and happiness in nineteen thirty-one. Every success , . ,”His 
voice tr^ed off uneasily into silence. Nervously he fingered 
his heavy fringe of hair. A tremendous crash exploded from 
the band. Like a car which has slowly, laboriously reached 
the summit of the mountain railway, we plunged headlong 
downwards into the New Year. 


The events of the next two hours were somewhat confused. 
We were in a small bar, where I remember only the ruflBied 
plumes of a paper streamer, crimson, very beautiful, stirring 
like seaweed in the draught from an electric fan. We wan- 
dered through streets crowded with girls who popped teasers 
in our faces. We ate ham and eggs in the first-class restaurant 
of the Rriedrichstrasse Station. Arthur had disappeared. The 
Baron was rather mysterious and sly about this; though I 
couldn t understand why. He had asked me to call him Kuno, 
and explained how much he admired the character of the 
English upper class. We were driving in a taxi, alone. The 
Baron told me about a friend of his, a young Etonian. The 
Etonian had been in India for two years. On the morning 
after his return, he had met his oldest school-friend in Bond 
Street. Although they hadn t seen each other for so long, the 
school-friend had merely said: “Hullo. Ym afraid I can’t talk 
to you now. I have to go shopping with my mother.” “And I 
find this so very nice,” the Baron concluded. “It is your Eng- 
lish self-control, you see.” The taxi crossed several bridges 
and passed a gas-works. The Baron pressed my hand and 
made me a long speech about how wonderful it is to be 
young. He had become rather indistinct and his English was 
rapidly deteriorating. “You see, excuse me, IVe been watch- 
ing your reactions the whole evening. I hope you are not 
offended?” I found my false nose in my pocket and put it on. 
It had got a bit crumpled. The Baron seemed impressed, 
“This is all so very interesting for me, you see.” Soon after 
this, I had to stop the taxi under a lamp-post in order to be 

We were driving along a street bounded by a high dark 
wall. Over the top of the wall I suddenly caught sight of an 
ornamental cross. “Good God,” I said. “Are you taking me to 
the cemetery?” 

The Baron merely smiled. We had stopped; having arrived, 
it seemed, at the blackest comer of the night. I stumbled over 
something, and the Baron obligingly took my arm. He 


seemed to have been here before. We passed through an 
archway and into a courtyard. There was light here from 
several windows, and snatches of gramophone music and 
laughter. A silhouetted head and shoulders leant out of one 
of the windows, shouted: ""Prosit Neujahrr and spat vigor- 
ously. The spittle landed with a soft splash on the paving- 
stone just beside my foot. Other heads emerged frojn other 
windows. ‘Is that you, Paul, you sow?” someone shouted. 
"Red Front!” yelled a voice, and a louder splash followed. 
Tliis time, I think, a beer-mug had been emptied. . 

Here one of the anassthetic periods of my evening super- 
vened. How the Baron got me upstairs, I don’t know. It was 
quite painless. We were in a room full of people dancing, 
shouting, singing, drinking, shaking our hands and thumping 
us on the back. There was an immense ornamental gasolier, 
converted to hold electric bulbs and enmeshed in paper fes- 
toons. My glance reeled about the room, picking out large or 
minute objects, a bowl of claret-cup in which floated an 
empty match-box, a broken bead from a necklace, a bust of 
Bismarck on the top of a Gothic dresser — holding them for 
an instant, then losing them again in general coloured chaos. 
In this manner, I caught a sudden startling glimpse of Ar- 
thur s head, its mouth open, the wig jammed down over its 
left eye. I stumbled about looking for the body and collapsed 
comfortably on to a sofa, holding the upper half of a girl. 
My face was buried in dusty-smelling lace cushions. The 
noise of the party burst over me in thundering waves, like 
the sea. It was strangely soothing. “Don’t go to sleep, dar- 
ling,” said the girl I was holding. “No, of course I wont,” I 
replied, and sat up, tidying my hair. I felt suddenly, quite 

Opposite me, in a big armchair, sat Arthur, with a thin, 
dark, sulky-looking girl on his lap. He had taken off his coat 
and waistcoat and looked most domestic. He wore gaudily 
striped braces. His shirt-sleeves were looped up with elastic 
bands. Except for a little hair round the base of the skull, 
he was perfectly bald. 


“What on earth have you done with it?'’ I exclaimed. 
“You’ll catch cold.” 

“The idea was not mine, William. Rather a graceful tribute, 
don’t you think, to the Iron Chancellor?” 

He seemed in much better spirits, now, than earlier in the 
evening, and, strangely enough, not at all drunk. He had a 
remark^J^ly strong head. Looking up, I saw the wig perched 
rakishly on Bismarck’s helmet. It was much too big for him. 

Turning, I found the Baron sitting beside me on the sofa. 

“Hullo, iCuno,” I said. “How did you get here?” 

He dicin’t answer, but smiled his bright rigid smile and 
desperately cocked an eyebrow. He seemed on the very point 
of collapse. In another moment, his monocle would fall 

The gramophone burst into loud braying music. Most of 
the people in the room began to dance. They were nearly 
all young. The boys were in shirt-sleeves; the girls had un- 
hooked their dresses. The atmosphere of the room was heavy 
with dust and perspiration and cheap scent. An enormous 
woman elbowed her way through the crowd, carrying a glass 
of wine in each hand. She wore a pink silk blouse and a very 
short pleated white skirt; her feet were jammed into absurdly 
small high-heeled shoes, out of which bulged pads of silk- 
stockinged flesh. Her cheeks were waxy pink and her hair 
dyed tinsel-golden, so that it matched the glitter of the half- 
dozen bracelets on her powdered arms. She was as curious 
and sinister as a life-size doll. Like a doll, she had staring 
china-blue eyes which did not laugh, although her lips were 
parted in a smile revealing several gold teeth. 

“This is Olga, our hostess,” Arthur explained. 

“Hullo, Baby!” Olga handed me a glass. She pinched Ar- 
thur’s cheek: “Well, my little turtle-dove?” 

The gesture was so perfunctory that it reminded me of a 
vet. with a* horse. Arthur giggled: “Hardly what one would 
call a strikingly well-chosen epithet, is it? A turtle-dove. 
What do you say to that, Anni?” He addressed the dark girl 
•on his knee. “You’re very silent, you know. You don’t sparkle 


this evening. Or does the presence of the extremely hand- 
some young man opposite distract your thoughts? William^ 
I believe you’ve made a conquest. I do indeed.” 

Anni smiled at this, a slight self-possessed whore’s smile. 
Then she scratched her thigh, and yawned. She wore a 
smartly cut little black jacket and a black skirt. On her legs 
were a pair of long black boots, laced up to the knee. They 
had a curious design in gold running round the tops. They 
gave to her whole costume the effect of a kind of uniform. 

‘‘Ah, you’re admiring Anni’s boots,” said Arthur, with satis- 
faction. “But you ought to see her other pair. Scarlet leather 
with black heels. I had them made for her myself. Anni won’t 
wear them in the street; she says they make her look too 
conspicuous. But sometimes, if she’s feeling particularly ener- 
getic, she puts them on when she comes to see me.” 

Meanwhile, several of the girls and boys had stopped danc- 
ing. They stood round us, dieir arms interlaced, their eyes 
fixed on Arthur’s mouth with the naive interest of savages, as 
though they expected to see the words jump visibly out of 
his throat. One of the boys began to laugh. “Oh yes,” he 
mimicked. “I spik you Englisch, no?” 

Arthur’s hand was straying abstractedly over Anni’s thigh. 
She raised herself and smacked it sharply, with the imper- 
sonal viciousness of a cat. 

“Oh dear. I’m afraid you’re in a very cruel mood, this eve- 
ning! I see I shall be corrected for this. Anni is an exceedingly 
severe young lady.” Arthur sniggered loudly; continued con- 
versationally in English: “Don’t you think it’s an exquisitely 
beautiful face? Quite perfect, in its way. Like a Raphael 
Madonna. The otiber day I made an epigram. I said, Anni’s 
beauty is only sin-deep. I hope that’s original? Is it? Please 

“I think it’s very good indeed.” 

“Only sin-deep. I’m glad you like it. My first thought was, 
I must tell that to William. You positively inspire me, you 
know. You make me sparkle. I always say that I only wish 


to have three sorts of people as my friends, those who are very 
rich, those who are very witty, and those who are very beau- 
tiful. You, my dear William, belong to the second cate- 

I could guess to which category Baron von Pregnitz be- 
longed, and looked round to see whether he had been listen- 
ing. But the Baron was otherwise engaged. He reclined upon 
the farther end of the sofa in the embrace of a powerful 
youth in a boxers sweater, who was gradually forcing a 
mugful of beer down his throat. The Baron protested feebly; 
the beer was spilling all over him. 

I became aware that I had my arm round a girl. Perhaps 
she had been there all the time. She snuggled against me, 
while from the other side a boy was amateurishly trying to 
pick my pocket. I opened my mouth to protest, but thought 
better of it. Why make a scene at the end of such an enjoy- 
able evening? He was welcome to my money. I only had 
three marks left at the most. The Baron would pay for every- 
thing, anyhow. At that moment, I saw his face with almost 
microscopic distinctness. He had, as I noticed now for the 
first time, been taking artificial sunlight treatment. The skin 
round his nose was just beginning to peel. How nice he was! 
I raised my glass to him. His fish-eye gleamed faintly over 
the boxer s arm and he made a slight movement of his head. 
He was beyond speech. When I turned round, Arthur and 
Anni had disappeared. 

With the vague intention of going to look for them, I stag- 
gered to my feet, only to become involved in the dancing, 
which had broken out again with renewed vigour, I was 
seized round the waist, roimd the neck, kissed, hugged, tick- 
led, half undressed; I danced with girls, with boys, with two 
or three people at the same time. It may have been five or 
ten minutes before I reached the door at the farther end of 
the room. ^Beyond the door was a pitch-dark passage with 
a crack of light at the end of it. The passage was crammed 
so full of furniture that one could only edge one’ s way along 


it sideways. I had wriggled and shuflBed about half the dis- 
tance, when an agonized cry came from the lighted room 
ahead of me. 

"‘Nein, nein, Mercy! oh dear! Hilfe! HilfeF* 

There was no mistaking the voice. They had got Arthur 
in there, and were robbing him and knocking him about. I 
might have known it. We were fools ever to have poked our 
noses into a place like this. We had only ourselves to thank. 
Drink made me brave. Struggling forward to the door, I 
pushed it open. 

The first person I saw was Anni, She was standing in the 
middle of the room. Arthur cringed on the floor at her feet. 
He had removed several more of his garments, and was now 
dressed, lightly but with perfect decency, in a suit of mauve 
silk underwear, a rubber abdominal belt and a pair of socks. 
In one hand he held a brush and in the other a yellow shoe- 
rag. Olga towered behind him, brandishing a heavy leather 

“You call that clean, you swiner she cried, in a terrible 
voice. “Do them again this minute! And if I find a speck of 
dirt on them TU thrash you till you canT sit down for a week.*" 

As she spoke she gave Arthur a smart cut across the but- 
tocks. He uttered a squeal of pain and pleasure, and began 
to brush and polish Anni s boots with feverish haste. 

“Mercy! Mercy!” Arthur s voice was shrill and gleeful, like 
a child's when it is shamming. “Stop! You're killing me.” 

“Killings too good for you,” retorted Olga, administering 
another cut. “Ill skin you alive!” 

“Oh! Oh! Stop! Mercy! Oh!” 

They were making such a noise that they hadn't heard me 
bang open the door. Now they saw me, however. My pres- 
ence did not seem to disconcert any of them in the least. 
Indeed, it appeared to add spice to Arthur's enjoyment. 

“Oh dear! William, save me! You won't? You're “as cruel as 
the rest of them. Anni, my love! Olga! Just look how she 
treats me. Goodness knows what they won't be making me 
do in a minute!” 


“Come in, Baby,” cried Olga, with tigerish jocularity. “Just 
you wait! It’s your turn next. ITl make you cry for Mummy!” 

She made a playful slash at me with the whip which sent 
me in headlong retreat down the passage, pursued by Ar- 
thur’s delighted and anguished cries. 

Sevei;al hours later I woke to find myself lying curled up 
on the floor, with my face pressed against the leg of the sofa. 
I had a head like a furnace, and pains in every bone. The 
party was over. Half a dozen people lay insensible about the 
dismantled room, sprawling in various attitudes of extreme 
discomfort. Daylight gleamed through the slats of the Ve- 
netian blinds. 

After making sure that neither Aothur nor the Baron were 
among the fallen, I picked my way over their bodies, out of 
the flat, downstairs, across the courtyard and into the street. 
The whole building seemed to be full of dead drunks. I met 

I found myself in one of the back streets near the canal, 
not far from the Mockernbriicke Station, about half an hour 
from my lodgings. I had no money for the electric train. And, 
anyhow, a walk would do me good. I limped home, along 
dreary streets where paper streamers hung from the sills of 
damp blank houses, or were entangled in the clammy twigs 
of the trees. When I arrived, my landlady greeted me with 
the news that Arthur had rung up already three times to 
know how I was. 

“Such a nice-spoken gentleman, I always think. And so 

I agreed with her, and went to bed. 



Frl. Schroeder, my landlady, was very fond of Arthur. Over 
the telephone, she always addressed him as Herr Doktor, her 
highest mark of esteem. 

“Ah, is that you, Herr Doktor? But of course I recognize 
your voice; I should know it in a million. You sound very 
tired this morning. Another of your late nights? Na, na, you 
can't expect an old woman like me to believe that; I faiow 
what gentlemen are when they go out on the spree. . . . 
Whafs that you say? Stuff and nonsense! You flatterer! Well, 
well, you men are all alike; from seventeen to seventy . . . 
Pfuil Vm surprised at you. . . . No, I most certainly shall 
not! Ha, ha! You want to speak to Herr Bradshaw? Why, of 
course, I'd forgotten. Til call him at once.” 

When Arthur came to tea with me, Frl. Schroeder would 
put on her black velvet dress, which was cut low at the neck, 
and her string of Woolworth pearls. With her cheeks rouged 
and her eyelids darkened, she would open the door to him, 
looking like a caricature of Mary Queen of Scots. I remarked 
on this to Arthur, who was delighted. 

“Really, William, you're most unkind. You say such sharp 
things. I'm beginning to be afraid of your tongue, I am in- 

After this he usually referred to Frl. Schroeder as Her 
Majesty. La Divine Schroeder was another favourite epithet. 

!No matter how much of a hurry he was in, he always found 
time for a few minutes' flirtation with her, brought her flow- 
ers, sweets, cigarettes, and sympathized with every fluctua- 
tion in the delicate health of Hanns, her canary. When Hanns 
finally died and Frl. Schroeder shed tears, I thought Arthur 


was going to cry too. He was genuinely upset. “Dear, dear ” 
he kept repeating. "Nature is really very cruel.” 

My other friends were less enthusiastic about Arthur. I 
introduced him to Helen Pratt, but the meeting was not a 
success. At that time Helen was Berlin correspondent to one 
of the London political weeklies, and supplemented her in- 
come by making translations and giving English lessons. We 
sometimes passed on pupils to each other. She was a pretty, 
fair-haired, fragile-looking girl, hard as nails, who had been 
oducated'at the University of London and took Sex seriously. 
She was accustomed to spending her days and nights in male 
50 ciety and had little use for the company of other girls. She 
could drink most of the English journalists under Ae table, 
and sometimes did so, but more as a matter of principle than 
because she enjoyed it. The first time she met you, she called 
you by your Christian name and informed you that her par- 
ents kept a tobacco and sweet shop in Shepherd s Bush. This 
was her method of "testing” character; your reaction to the 
news damned or saved you finally in her estimation. Above 
all else, Helen loathed being reminded that she was a wo- 
man; except in bed. 

Arthur, as I saw too late, had no technique whatsoever for 
dealing with her sort. From the first moment he was frankly 
scared of her. She brushed aside all the little polished polite- 
nesses which shielded his timid soul. "Hullo, you two,” she 
said, casually reaching out a hand over the newspaper she 
was reading. (We had met by appointment in a small restau- 
rant behind the Memorial Church.) 

Arthur gingerly took the hand she offered. He lingered 
uneasily beside the table, fidgeted, awaiting the ritual to 
which he was accustomed. Nothing happened. He cleared 
his throat, coughed: 

"Will you allow me to take a seat?” 

Helen, who was about to read something aloud from the 
newspaper, glanced up at him as though she’d forgotten his 
existence and was surprised to find him still there. 

"Whats the matter?” she said. "Aren’t there enough 


We got talking, somehow, about Berlin night life. Arthur 
giggled and became arch. Helen, who dealt in statistics and 
psycho-analytical terms, regarded him in puzzled disap- 
proval. At length Arthur made a sly reference to "‘the spe- 
ciality of the Kaufhaus des Westens."’ 

“Oh, you mean those whores on the corner there,” said 
Helen, in the bright matter-of-fact tone of a schoolmistress 
giving a biology lesson, “who dress up to excite the boot- 

“Well, upon my soul, ha ha, I must say,” Arthur sniggered, 
coughed and rapidly fingered his wig, “seldom have I met 
such an extremely, if you 11 allow me to say so, er — advanced, 
or shall I say, er — modern young lady . . .” 

“My God!” Helen threw back her head and laughed un- 
pleasantly. “I haven’t been called a young lady since the 
days when I used to help mother with the shop on Saturday 

“Have you — er — been in this city long?” asked Arthur 
hastily. Vaguely aware that he had made a mistake, he im- 
agined that he ought to change the subject. I saw the look 
Helen gave him and knew that all was over. 

“If you take my advice, Bill,” she said to me, the next time 
we met, “you won’t trust that man an inch.” 

“I don’t,” I said. 

“Oh, I know you. You’re soft, like most men. You make 
up romances about people instead of seeing them as they 
are. Have you ever noticed his mouth?” 


“Ugh, it’s disgusting, I could hardly bear to look at it. 
Beastly and flabby like a toad’s.” 

“Well,” I said, laughing, “I suppose I’ve got a weakness 
for toads.” 

Not daunted by this failure, I tried Arthur on Fritz Wendel. 
Fritz was a German-American, a young man about town, 
who spent his leisure time dancing and playing bridge. He 
had a curious passion for the society of painters and writers, 
and had acquired a status with them by working at a fashion- 
able art defers. The art dealer didn’t pay him anything, but 


Fritz could afford this hobby, being rich. He had an aptitude 
for gossip which amounted to talent, and might have made 
a first-class private detective. 

We had tea together in Fritz’s flat. He and Arthur talked 
New York, impressionist painting, and the unpublished works 
of the Wilde group. Arthur was witty and astonishingly in- 
formative. Fritz’s black eyes sparkled as he registered the 
epigrams for future use, and I smiled, feeling pleased and 
proud. I felt myself personally responsible for the success 
of the interview. I was childishly anxious that Arthur should 
be approved of; perhaps because I, too, wanted to be finally, 
completely convinced. 

We said good-bye with mutual promises of an early future 
meeting. A day or two later, I happened to see Fritz in the 
street. From the pleasure with which he greeted me, I knew 
at once that he had something extra spiteful to tell me. For a 
quarter of an hour he chatted gaily about bridge, night clubs, 
and his latest flame, a well-lmown sculptress; his malicious 
smile broadening all the while at the thought of the tit-bit 
which he had in reserve. At length he produced it. 

“Been seeing any more of your friend Norris?” 

“Yes,” I said. “Why?” 

“Nothing,” drawled Fritz, his naughty eyes on my face. 
“Eventually I’d watch your step, that’s all.” 

“Whatever do you mean?” 

“I’ve been hearing some queer things about him.’* 

“Oh, indeed?” 

“Maybe they aren’t true. You know how people talk.” 

“And I know how you listen, Fritz.” 

He grinned; not in the least offended: “There’s a story go- 
ing round that eventually Norris is some kind of cheap 

“I must say, I should have thought that ‘cheap’ was hardly 
a word one could apply to him.” 

Fritz smiled a superior, indulgent smile. 

“I dare say it would surprise you to know that he’s been in 

“What you mean is, it’d surprise me to know that your 


friends say he’s been in prison. Well, it doesn’t in the least. 
Your friends would say anything.” 

Fritz didn’t reply. He merely continued to smile. 

“What’s he supposed to have been in prison for?” I asked, 

“I didn’t hear,” Fritz drawled. “But maybe I can guess.” 

“Well, I can’t.” 

“Look, Bill, exuse me a moment.” He had changed his tone 
now. He was serious. He laid his hand on my shoulder. 
“What I mean to say, the thing is this. Eventually, we two, 
we don’t give a damn, hell, for goodness’ sake. But we’ve got 
other people to consider besides ourselves, haven’t we? Sup- 
pose Norris gets hold of some kid and plucks him of his last 

“How dreadful that would be.” 

Fritz gave me up. His final shot was: “Well, don’t say I 
didn’t warn you, that’s all.” 

“No, Fritz. I most certainly won’t.” 

We parted pleasantly. 

Perhaps Helen Pratt had been right about me. Stage by 
stage I was building up a romantic background for Arthur, 
and was jealous lest it should be upset. Certainly, I rather en- 
joyed playing with the idea that he was, in fact, a dangerous 
criminal; but I am sure that I never seriously believed in it 
for a moment. Nearly every member of my generation is a 
crime-snob. I was fond of Arthur with an aflEection strength- 
ened by obstinacy. If my friends didn’t like him because of 
his mouth or his past, the loss was theirs; I was, I flattered 
myself, more profound, more humane, an altogether subtler 
connoisseur of human nature than they. And if, in my letters 
to England, I sometimes referred to him as “a most amazing 
old crook,” I only meant by this that I wanted to imagine him 
as a glorified being; audacious and self-reliant, reckless and 
cahn. All of which, in reality, he only too painfully and ob- 
viously wasn’t. 

Poor Arthur! I have seldom known anybody with such 
weak nerves. At times, I began to believe he must be suffering 


from a mild form of persecution mania. I can see him now as 
he used to sit waiting for me in the most secluded comer of 
our favourite restaurant, bored, abstracted, uneasy; his hands 
folded with studied nonchalance in his lap, his head held at 
an awkward, listening angle, as though he expected, at any 
moment, to be startled by a very loud bang. I can hear him 
at the telephone, speaking cautiously, as close as possible to 
the mouthpiece and barely raising his voice above a whisper. 

"Hullo. Yes, it’s me. So you’ve seen that party? Good. Now 
when can we meet? Let’s say at the usual time, at the house 
of the person who is interested. And please ask that other 
one to be there, too. No, no. Herr D. It’s particularly impor- 
tant. Good-bye.” 

I laughed. "One would think, to hear you, that you were an 

"A very arch conspirator,” Arthur giggled. “No, I assure 
you, my dear William, that I was discussing nothing more 
desperate than the sale of some old furniture in which I hap- 
pen to be — er — ^financially interested.” 

"Then why on earth aU this secrecy?” 

"One never knows who may be listening.” 

"But, surely, in any case, it wouldn’t interest them very 

"You can’t be too careful nowadays,” said Arthur vaguely. 

By this time, I had borrowed and read nearly all his "amus- 
ing” books. Most of them were extremely disappointing. 
Their authors adopted a curiously pmdish, snobby, lower- 
middle-class tone, and, despite their sincere efforts to be 
pornographic, became irritatingly vague in the most impor- 
tant passages. Arthur had a signed set of volumes of My Life 
and Loves. I asked him if he had known Frank Harris. 

"Slightly, yes. It’s some years ago now. The news of his 
death came as a great shock to me. He was a genius in his 
own way. So witty, I remember his saying to me, once, in the 
Louvre: ‘Ah, my dear Norris, you and I are the last of the 
gentleman adventurers.’ He could be very caustic, you know. 
People never forgot the things he said about them. 


“And that reminds me ” continued Arthur meditatively, 
“of a question once put to me by the late Lord Disley. ‘Mr. 
Norris/ he asked me, ‘are you an adventurer?' " 

“What an extraordinary question. I don't call that witty. 
It was damned rude of him/' 

“I replied: ‘We are all adventurers. Life is an adventure.’ 
Rather neat, don't you think?" 

“Just the sort of answer he deserved." 

Arthur modestly regarded his finger-nails. 

“I'm generally at my best in the witness-box." 

“Do you mean that this was during a trial?" 

“Not a trial, William. An action. I was suing the Evening 
Tost for hbel.” 

“Why, what had they said about you?" 

“They had made certain insinuations about the conduct of 
a public fund with which I had been entrusted." 

“You won, of course?" 

Arthur carefully stroked his chin. “They were unable to 
make good their accusations. I was awarded five hundred 
pounds damages." 

“Have you often brought Hbel actions?" 

“Five times," Arthur modestly admitted. “And on three 
other occasions the matter was settled out of court." 

“And you've always got damages?" 

“Something. A mere bagatelle. Honour was satisfied." 

“It must be quite a source of income." 

Arthur made a deprecatory gesture. “I should hardly go 
so far as to say that." 

This, at last, seemed the moment for my question. 

“Tell me, Arthur. Have you ever been in prison?" 

He rubbed his chin slowly. Into his vacant blue eyes came 
a curious expression. Relief, perhaps. Or even, I fancied, a 
certain gratified vanity. 

“So you heard of the case?" 


“It was very widely reported at the time." Arthur modestly 
arranged his hands upon die crook of his umbrella. “Did you, 


you, by any chance, read a full account of the evidenced* 

“No. Unfortunately not.” 

“That’s a pity. I should have had great pleasure in lending 
you the Press cuttings, but unfortunately they were lost in the 
course of one of my many moves. I should have liked to hear 
your impartial opinion. . . . I consider that the jury was un- 
fairly prejudiced against me from the start. Had I had the 
experience which I have now I should have undoubtedly been 
acquitted. My counsel advised me quite wrongly. I should 
have pleaded justification, but he assured me that it would be 
quite impossible to obtain the necessary evidence. The judge 
was very hard on me. He even went so far as to insinuate that 
I had been engaged in a form of blackmail.” 

“I say! That was going a bit far, wasn’t it?” 

“It was indeed.” Arthur shook his head sadly. “The English 
legal mind is sometimes unfortunately unsubtle. It is unable 
to distinguish between the finer shades of conduct.” 

“And how much . . . how long did you get?” 

“Eighteen months in the second division. At Wormwood 

“I hope they treated you properly?” 

“They treated me in accordance with the regulations. I 
can’t complain. . . . Nevertheless, since my release, I have 
felt a lively interest in penal reform. I make a point of sub- 
scribing to the various societies which exist for that purpose.” 

There was a pause, during which Arthur evidendy in- 
dulged in painful memories. “I think,” he continued at length, 
“I may safely claim that in the course of my whole career I 
have very seldom, if ever, done anything which I knew to be 
contrary to the law. . . . On the other hand, I do and always 
shall maintain that it is the privilege of the richer but less 
mentally endowed members of the community to contribute 
to the upkeep of people like myself. I hope you’re with me 

“Not being one of the richer members,” I said, “yes.” 

“I’m so glad. You know, William, I feel that we might come, 
in time, to see eye to eye upon many things. . . . It’s quite 


extraordinary what a lot of good money is lying about, wait- 
ing to be picked up. Yes, positively picked up. Even nowa- 
days. Only one must have the eyes to see it. And capital. A 
certain amount of capital is absolutely essential. One day I 
think I really must teU you about my dealings with an Amer- 
ican who believed himself to be a direct descendant of Peter 
the Great. If s a most instructive story.” 

Sometimes Aithur talked about his childhood. As a boy he 
was dehcate and had never been sent to school. An only son, 
he lived alone with his widowed mother, whom he adored. 
Together they studied literature and art; together they visited 
Paris, Baden-Baden, Rome, moving always in the best society, 
from Schloss to chdteau, from cMteau to palace, gentle, 
charming, appreciative; in a state of perpetual tender anx- 
iety about each other’s health. Lying iU in rooms with a con- 
necting door, they would ask for their beds to be moved so 
that they could talk without raising their voices. Telling 
stories, making gay Httle jokes, they kept up each other s spir- 
its through weary sleepless nights. Convalescent, they were 
propelled, side by side, in batti-chairs, through the gardens 
of Lucerne. 

This invalid idyll was doomed, by its very nature, soon to 
end. Arthur had to grow up; to go to Oxford. His mother had 
to die. Sheltering him with her love to the very last, she re- 
fused to allow the servants to telegraph to him as long as she 
remained conscious. When at length they disobeyed her, it 
was too late. Her delicate son was spared, as she had in- 
tended, the strain of a death-bed farewell. 

After her death, his health improved greatly, for he had to 
stand on his own feet. This novel and painful atttitude was 
considerably eased by the small fortune he had inherited. He 
had money enough to last him, according to the standards of 
social London in the ’nineties, for at least ten years. He spent 
it in rather less than two. "“It was at that time,” said Arthur, 
“that I first learnt the meaning of the word luxury.’ Since 
then, I am sorry to say, I have been forced to add others to my 
vocabulary; horrid ugly ones, some of them.” “I wish*” he re- 


marked simply, on another occasion, ""I had that money now. 
I should know what to do with it/" In those days he was only 
twenty-two and didn't know. It disappeared with magic 
speed into the mouths of horses and the stockings of ballet 
girls. The pahns of servants closed on it with an oily iron grip. 
It was transformed into wonderful suits of clothes which he 
presented after a week or two, in disgust, to his valet; into 
oriental loiickknacks which somehow, when he got them back 
to his flat, turned out to be rusty old iron pots; into land- 
scapes of , the latest impressionist genius which by daylight 
next morning were childish daubs. Well groomed and witty, 
with money to bum, he must have been one of the most eli- 
gible yoimg bachelors of his large circle; but it was the 
money lenders, not the ladies, who got him in the end. 

A stem uncle, appealed to, gmdgingly rescued him, but 
imposed conditions. Arthur was to settle down to read for the 
Bar. “And I can honestly say that I did try. I can't tell you 
the agonies I suffered. After a month or two I was compelled 
to take steps.” When I asked what the steps were, he became 
uncommunicative. I gathered that he had found some way of 
putting his social connections to good use. “It seemed very 
sordid at the time,” he added cryptically. “I was such a very 
sensitive young man, you know. It makes one smile to think 
of it now. 

“From that moment I date the beginning of my career; 
and, unlike Lot's wife, I have never looked back. There have 
been ups and downs . . . ups and downs. The ups are a mat- 
ter of European history. The downs I prefer not to remember. 
Well, well. As the proverbial Irishman said, I have put my 
hand to the plough and now I must lie on it.” 

During that spring and early summer, Arthurs ups and 
downs were, I gathered, pretty frequent. He was never very 
willing to discuss them; but his spirits always sufficiently in- 
dicated the state of his finances. The sale of the “old furni- 
ture” ( or whatever it really was ) seemed to provide a tempo- 
rary respite. And, in May, he returned from a short trip to 


Paris very cheerful, having, as he guardedly said, “several 
little irons in the fire.” 

Behind all these transactions moved the sinister, pumpkin- 
headed figure of Schmidt. Arthur was quite frankly afraid of 
his secretary, and no wonder. Schmidt was altogether too 
useful; he had made his master s interests identical with his 
own. He was one of those people who have not only a capac- 
ity, but a positive appetite for doing their employer s dirty 
work. From chance remarks made by Arthur in less discreet 
moments, I was gradually able to form a fair idea of the sec- 
retary’s duties and talents. “It is very painful for anyone of 
our own class to say certain things to certain individuals. It 
offends our delicate sensibilities. One has to be so very crude.” 
Schmidt, it seemed, experienced no pain. He was quite pre- 
pared to say anything to anybody. He confronted creditors 
with the courage and technique of a bullfighter. He followed 
up the results of Arthur s wildest shots, and returned with 
money like a retriever bringing home a duck. 

Schmidt controlled and doled out Arthur s pocket-money. 
Arthur wouldn’t, for a long time, admit this; but it was ob- 
vious. There were days when he hadn’t enough to pay his bus 
fare; others when he would say: “Just a moment, William. I 
shall have to run up to my flat to fetch something I’d forgot- 
ten. You won’t mind waiting down here a minute, will you?” 
On such occasions, he would rejoin me, after a quarter of an 
hour or so, in the street; sometimes deeply depressed, some- 
times radiant, like a schoolboy who has received an unex- 
pectedly large tip. 

Another phrase to which I became accustomed was: “I’m 
afraid I can’t ask you to come up just now. The fiat’s so un- 
tidy.” I soon discovered this to mean that Schmidt was at 
home. Arthur, who dreaded scenes, was always at pains to 
prevent our meeting; for, since my first visit, our mutual dis- 
hke had considerably increased. Schmidt, I think, not only 
disliked me, but definitely disapproved of me as a hostile and 
unsettling influence on his employer. He was never exactly 
offensive. He merely smiled his insulting smile and amused 


himself by coming suddenly into the room on his noiseless 
shoes. He would stand there a few seconds, unnoticed, and 
then speak, startling Artliur into a jump and a little scream. 
When he had done this two or three times in succession, Ar- 
thur s nerves would be in such a state that he could no longer 
talk coherently about anything and we had to retire to die 
nearest pafe to continue our conversation. Schmidt would 
help his master on with his overcoat and bow us out of the 
flat with ironic ceremony, slyly content that his object had 
been achieved. 

In June, we went to spend a long week-end with Baron von 
Pregnitz; he had invited us to his country villa, which stood 
on the shore of a lake in Mecklenburg. The largest room in the 
villa was a gymnasium fitted with the most modern appara- 
tus, for the Baron made a hobby of his figure. He tortured 
himself daily on an electric horse, a rowing-machine and a 
rotating massage belt. It was very hot and we all bathed, even 
Arthur. He wore a rubber swimming-cap, carefully adjusted 
in the privacy of his bedroom. The house was full of hand- 
some young men with superbly developed brown bodies 
which they smeared in oil and baked for hours in the sun. 
They ate like wolves and had table manners which pained 
Arthur deeply; most of them spoke with the broadest Berlin 
accents. They wrestled and boxed on the beach and did 
somersault dives from the spring-board into the lake. The 
Baron joined in everything and often got severely handled. 
With good-humoured brutality the boys played practical 
jokes on him which smashed his spare monocles and might 
easily have broken his neck. He bore it all with his heroic 
frozen smile. 

On the second evening of our visit, he escaped from them 
and took a walk with me in the woods, alone. That morning 
they had tossed him in a blanket and he had landed on the 
asphalt pavement; he was still a bit shaky. His hand rested 
heavily on my arm. “When you get to my age,” he told me 
sadly, “I think you will find tihat die most beautiful things in 


life belong to the Spirit. The Flesh alone cannot give us hap- 
piness.” He sighed and gave my arm a faint squeeze. 

"Our friend Kuno is a most remarkable man,” observed 
Arthur, as we sat togetlier in the train on our way back to 
Berlin. "Some people believe that he has a great career ahead 
of him. I shouldn’t be at all surprised if he were to be offered 
an important post under the next Government.” 

"You don’t say so?” 

"I think,” Arthur gave me a discreet, sideways glance, "that 
he’s taken a great fancy to you.” 

"Do you?” 

"I sometimes feel, William, that with your talents, it’s a 
pity you’re not more ambitious. A young man should make 
use of his opportunities. Kuno is in a position to help you in all 
sorts of ways.” 

I laughed. "To help both of us, you mean?” 

"WeU, if you put it in that way, yes. I quite admit that I 
foresee certain advantages to myself from the arrangement. 
Whatever my faults, I hope I’m not a hypocrite. For instance, 
he might make you his secretary.” 

"I’m sorry, Arthur,” I said, "but I’m afraid I should find my 
duties too heavy ” 


Towards the end of August, Arthur left Berlin. An air of 
mystery surrounded his departure; he hadn’t e<^en told me 
that he was thinking of going. I rang up the flat twice, at times 
when I was pretty sure Schmidt would not be there. Her- 
mann, the cook, knew only that his master was away for an 


indefinite period. On the second occasion, I asked where he 
had gone, and was told London. I began to be afraid that 
Arthur had left Germany for good. No doubt he had the best 
of reasons for doing so. 

One day, however, during the second week in September, 
the telephone rang. Arthur himself was on the line. 

‘Is that you, dear boy? Here I am, back at last! IVe got 
such a lot to tell you. Please don’t say you’re engaged this 
evening. You aren’t? Then will you come round here about 
half -past six? I think I may add that I’ve got a little surprise 
in store for you. No, I shan’t tell you anything more. You must 
come and see for yourself. Au revolt!" 

I arrived at the flat to find Aurther in the best of spirits. 

“My dear William, what a pleasure to see you again! How 
have you been getting on? Getting on and getting off?” 

Arthur tittered, scratched his chin and glanced rapidly and 
uneasily round the room as though he were not yet quite 
convinced that all the furniture was still in its proper place. 

“What was it like in London?” I asked. In spite of what he 
had said over the telephone, he didn’t seem in a particularly 
communicative mood. 

“In London?” Arthur looked blank. “Ah, yes. London. . . • 
To be perfectly frank with you, William, I was not in London. 
I was in Paris. Just at present, it is desirable that a slight un- 
certainty as to my whereabouts should exist in the minds of 
certain persons here.” He paused, added impressively: “I 
suppose I may tell you, as a very dear and intimate friend, 
that my visit was not unconnected with the Communist 

“Do you mean to say that you’ve become a communist?” 

“In all but name, William, yes. In all but name.” 

He paused for a moment, enjoying my astonishment. “What 
is more, I asked you here this evening to witness what I may 
call my Confessio Fidei. In an hour’s time, I am due to speak 
at a meeting held to protest against the exploitation of the 
Chinese peasantry. I hope you’ll do me the honour of com- 


‘‘Need you ask?” 

The meeting was to be held in Neukolln. Arthur insisted on 
taking a taxi all the way. He was in an extravagant mood. 

“I Feel,” he remarked, “that I shall look back on this eve- 
ning as one of the turning-points of my career.” 

He was visibly nervous and kept fingering his bunch of 
papers. Occasionally he cast an unhappy glance opt of the 
taxi window, as though he would have liked to ask the driver 
to stop. 

“I should think your career has had a good many turning- 
points,” I said, to distract his thoughts. 

Arthur brightened at once at the implied flattery. 

“It has, William. It has, indeed. If my life were going to 
end to-night (which I sincerely hope it wont) I could truth- 
fully say: ‘At any rate, I have lived. . . .’ I wish you had 
known me in the old days, in Paris, just before the War. I had 
my own car and an apartment on the Bois. It was one of the 
show places of its kind. The bedroom I designed myself, all 
in crimson and black. My collection of whips was probably 
unique.” Arthur sighed. “Mine is a sensitive nature. I react 
immediately to my surroundings. When the sun shines on me, 
I expand. To see me at my best, you must see me in my proper 
setting. A good table. A good cellar. Art. Music. Beautiful 
things. Charming and witty society. Then I begin to sparkle. 
I am transformed.” 

The taxi stopped. Arthur fussily paid the driver, and we 
passed through a large beer-garden, now dark and empty, 
into a deserted restaurant, where an elderly waiter informed 
us that the meeting was being held upstairs. “Not the first 
door,” he added. “That’s the Skittles Club.” 

“Oh dear,” exclaimed Arthur. “I’m afraid we must be very 

He was right The meeting had already begun. As we 
climbed the broad rickety staircase, we could hear the voice 
of a speaker echoing down the long shabby corridor. Two 
powerfully built youths wearing hammer-and-sickle armlets 
kept guard at the double doors. Arthur whispered a hurried 


explanation, and they let us pass. He pressed my hand nerv- 
ously. ‘Ill see you later, then.” I sat down on the nearest 
available chair. 

The hall was large and cold. Decorated in tawdry baroque, 
it might have been built about thirty years ago and not re- 
painted since. On the ceiling, an immense pink, blue and gold 
design of .cherubim, roses and clouds was peeled and patched 
with damp. Round the walls were draped scarlet banners 
with white lettering: ‘‘Arbeiterfront gegen Fascismus und 
Krieg,” *‘Wdr fordern Arbeit und Brot'^ ^Arbeiter alter Ldn- 
der, vereinigt euchf* 

The speaker sat at a long table on the stage facing the audi- 
ence. Behind them, a tattered backcloth represented a forest 
glade. There were two Chinese, a girl who was taking short- 
hand notes, a gaunt man with fuz2y hair who propped his 
head in his hands, as if listening to music. In front of them, 
dangerously near the edge of the platform, stood a short, 
broad-shouldered, red-haired man, waving a piece of paper 
at us like a flag. 

“Those are the figures, comrades. You’ve heard them. They 
speak for themselves, don’t they? I needn’t say any more. 
To-morrow you’ll see them in print in the Welt am Abend, 
It’s no good looking for them in the capitalist Press, because 
they won’t be there. The bosses will keep them out of their 
newspapers, because, if they were published, they might 
upset the stock exchanges. Wouldn’t that be a pity? Never 
mind. The workers will read them. The workers will know 
what to think of them. Let’s send a message to our comrades 
in China: The workers of the German Communist Party pro- 
test against the outrages of the Japanese murderers. The 
workers demand assistance for the hundreds of thousands of 
Chinese peasants now rendered homeless. Comrades, the 
Chinese section of the LA.H. appeals to us for funds to fight 
Japanese im'perialism and European exploitation. It’s our 
duty to help tiiem. We’re going to help them.” 

ITfie red-haired man smiled as he spoke, a militant, trium- 
phant smile; his white, even teeth gleamed in the lamplight. 


His gestures were slight but astonishingly forceful. At mo- 
ments it seemed as if the giant energy stored up in his short, 
stocky frame would have flung him bodily from the platform, 
like an over-powerful motor-bicycle. I had seen his photo- 
graph two or three times in the newspaper, but couldn't re- 
member who he was. From where I sat, it was difficult to hear 
everything he said. His voice drowned itself, filling the large, 
damp hall with thundering echoes. 

Arthur now appeared upon the stage, shaking hands has- 
tily with the Chinese, apologizing, fussing to his chair. A 
burst of applause which followed the red-haired man s last 
sentence visibly startled him. He sat down abruptly. 

During the clapping, I moved up several rows in order to 
hear better, squeezing into a place I had seen was empty in 
front of me. As I sat down, I felt a tug at my sleeve. It was 
Anni, the girl with the boots. Beside her, I recognised the boy 
who had poured the beer down Kuno's throat at Olga's on 
New Year's Eve. They both seemed pleased to see me. The 
boy shook hands with a grip which nearly made me yell out 

The hall was very full. The audience sat there in their 
soiled everyday clothes. Most of the men wore breeches with 
coarse woollen stockings, sweaters and peaked caps. Their 
eyes followed the speaker with hungry curiosity. I had never 
been to a communist meeting before, and what struck me 
most was the fixed attention of the upturned rows of faces; 
faces of the Berlin working class, pale and prematurely lined, 
often haggard and ascetic, like ihe heads of scholars, with 
thin, fair hair brushed back from their broad foreheads. They 
had not come here to see each other or to be seen, or even to 
fulfil a social duty. They were attentive but not passive. They 
were not spectators. They participated, with a curious, re- 
strained passion, in the speech made by the red-haired man. 
He spoke for them, he made their thoughts articulate. They 
were listening to their own collective voice. At intervals they 
applauded it, with sudden, spontaneous violence. Their pas- 
sion, their strength of purpose elated me. I stood outside it 


One day, perhaps, I should be with it, but never of it. At 
present I just sat there, a half-hearted renegade from my own 
class, my feelings muddled by anarchism talked at Cam- 
bridge, by slogans from the confirmation service, by the tunes 
the band played when my father s regiment marched to the 
railway station, seventeen years ago. And the little man fin- 
ished his speech and went back to his place at the table 
amidst thunders of clapping, 

"Who is he?” I asked. 

"Why, dpn’t you know?” exclaimed Anni’s friend in sur- 
prise. "That’s Ludwig Bayer. One of the best men we’ve got.’^ 
The boy’s name was Otto. Anni introduced us and I got 
another crushing hand-squeeze. Otto changed places with 
her so that he could talk to me. 

“Were you at the Sport Palace the other night? Man, you 
ought to have heard him! He spoke for two hours and a half 
wiSiout so much as a drink of water.” 

A Chinese delegate now stood up and was introduced. He 
spoke careful, academic German. In sentences which were 
like the faint, plaintive twanging of an Asiatic musical instru- 
ment, he told us of the famine, of the great floods, of the 
Japanese air-raids on helpless towns. "German comrades, I 
bring you a sad message from my unhappy countr)^” 

"My word!” whispered Otto, impressed. “It must be worse 
there than at my aunt’s in the Simeonstrasse.” 

It was already a quarter past nine. The Chinese was fol- 
lowed by the man with fuzzy hair. Arthiur was becoming im- 
patient. He kept glancing at his watch and furtively touching 
his wig. Then came the second Chinese. His German was in- 
ferior to that of his colleague, but the audience followed the 
speeches as eagerly as ever. Arthur, I could see, was nearly 
frantic. At length, he got up and went round to the back of 
Bayer’s chair. Bending over, he began speaking in an agitated 
whisper. Bayer smiled and made a friendly, soothing ges- 
ture. He seemed amused. Arthur returned dubiously to his 
place, where he soon began to fidget again. 

The Chinese finished at last. Bayer at once stood up, took 


Arthur encouragingly by the arm, as though he were a mere 
boy, and led him to the front of the stage. 

‘'This is the Comrade Arthur Norris, who has come to 
speak to us about the crimes of British Imperialism in the 
Far East.” 

It seemed so absurd to me to see him standing there that I 
could hardly keep a straight face. Indeed, it was difficult for 
me to understand why everybody in the hall didn’t burst out 
laughing. But no, the audience evidently didn’t find Arthur 
in the least funny. Even Anni, who had more reason than any- 
one present to regard him from a comic angle, was perfectly 

Arthur coughed, shuffled his papers. Then he began to 
speak in his fluent, elaborate German, a little too fast: 

“Since that day on which the leaders of the allied govern- 
ments saw fit, in their infinite wisdom, to draw up diat, no 
doubt, divinely inspired document known as the Treaty of 
Versailles; since that day, I repeat . . .” 

A slight stir, as if of uneasiness, passed over the rows of 
listeners. But the pale, serious, upturned faces were not ironic. 
They accepted without question this urbane bourgeois gen- 
tleman, accepted his stylish clothes, his graceful rentier wit. 
He had come to help them. Bayer had spoken for him. He was 
their friend. 

“British Imperialism has been engaged, during the last two 
hundred years, in conferring upon its victims the dubious 
benefits of the Bible, the Bottle and the Bomb. And of these 
three, I might perhaps venture to add, the Bomb has been 
infinitely the least noxious.” 

There was applause at this; delayed, hesitant clapping, as 
if Arthur s hearers approved his matter, but were still doubt- 
ful of his manner. Evidently encouraged, he continued: 

“I am reminded of the story of the Englishman, the Ger- 
man and the Frenchman who had a wager as* to which of 
them could cut down the most trees in one day. The French- 
man was the first to try . , 

At the end of this stoiy there was laughter and loud ap- 


plause. Otto thumped me violently on the back in his delight 
“Mensch! Der spricht priraa, wahrF* Then he bent forward 
again to listen, his eyes intent upon the platform, his arm 
round Anni s shoulder. Arthur exchanging his graceful ban- 
tering tone for an oratorical seriousness, was approaching his 

‘‘The cries of the starving Chinese peasantry are ringing in 
our ears as we sit in this hall to-night. They have come to us 
across the breadth of the world. Soon, we hope, they will 
sound yet more loudly, drowning the futile chatter of diplo- 
matists and the strains of dance bands in luxurious hotels, 
where the wives of armament manufacturers finger the pearls 
which have been bought with the price of the blood of inno- 
cent children. Yes, we must see to it that those cries are clearly 
heard by every thinking man and woman in Europe and in 
America. For then, and only then, will a term be set to this 
inhuman exploitation, this traiEc in living souls. . . 

Arthur concluded his speech with an energetic flourish. 
His face was quite flushed. Salvo upon salvo of clapping rat- 
tled over the hall. Many of the audience cheered. While the 
applause was still at its height, Arthur came down from the 
platform and joined me at the doors. Heads were turned to 
watch us go out. Otto and Anni had left the meeting with us. 
Otto wrung Arthur s hand and dealt him terrific blows on the 
shoulder with his heavy palm: “Arthur, you old horse! That 
was fine!” 

“Thank you, my dear boy. Thank you.” Arthur winced. 
He was feehng very pleased with himself. “How did they 
take it, William? Well, I think? I hope I made my points quite 
clearly? Please say I did.” 

“Honestly, Arthur, I was astounded.” 

“How charming of you: praise from such a severe critic as 
yourself is indeed music to my ears.” 

“Fd no idea you were such an old hand at it.” 

“In my time,” admitted Arthur modestly, “IVe had occa- 
sion to do a good deal of public speaking, though hardly 
quite of this Idnd.” 


We had cold supper at the flat. Schmidt and Hermann were 
both out: Otto and Anni made tea and laid the table. They 
seemed quite at home in the kitchen and knew where every- 
thing was kept. 

‘‘Otto is Anni’s chosen protector,” Arthur explained, while 
they were out of the room. ‘Tn another walk of life, one would 
call him her impresario. I believe he takes a certain percent- 
age of her earnings. I prefer not to inquire too closely. He s a 
nice boy, but excessively jealous. Luckily, not of Annfs cus- 
tomers. I should be very sorry indeed to get into his bad 
books. I understand that he's the middle-weight champion of 
his boxing club.” 

At len^ the meal was ready. He fussed round, giving di- 

“Will the Comradess Anni bring us some glasses? How nice 
of her. I should like to celebrate this evening. Perhaps, if 
Comrade Otto would be so kind, we might even have a little 
brandy. I don't know whether Comrade Bradshaw drinks 
brandy. You'd better ask him.” 

“At such an historic moment, Comrade Norris, I drink any- 

Otto came back to report that there was no more brandy. 

“Never mind,” said Arthur, “brandy is not a proletarian 
drink. We'll drink beer.” He filled our glasses. “To the world 

“To the world revolution.” 

Our glasses touched. Anni sipped daintily, holding the 
glass-stem between finger and thumb, her little finger minc- 
ingly crooked. Otto drained his at a gulp, banging down the 
tumbler heartily on to the table. Arthur's beer went the wrong 
way and choked him. He coughed, spluttered, dived for his 

“I'm afraid that's an evil omen,” I said jokingly. He seemed 
quite upset. 

“Please don't say that, William. I don't like people to say 
things of that kind, even in jest.” 

This was the first time I had ever known Arthur to be 


superstitious. I was amused and rather impressed. He ap- 
peared to have got it badly. Could he really have undergone 
a sort of religious conversion? It was difficult to believe. 

"Have you been a communist long, Arthur?’’ I asked, in 
English, as we began to eat. 

He cleared his throat slightly, shot an uneasy glance in the 
directior^ of the door. 

"At heart, William, yes. I think I may say that I have al- 
ways felt that, in the deepest sense, we are all brothers. Class 
distinctions have never meant anyihing to me; and hatred of 
tyranny is in my blood. Even as a small child, I could never 
bear injustice of any kind. It offends my sense of the beauti- 
ful. It is so stupid and unasstlietic. I remember my feelings 
when I was first unjustly punished by my nurse. It wasn’t 
the punishment itself which I resented; it was the clumsiness, 
the lack of imagination behind it. That, I remember, pained 
me very deeply.” 

"Then why didn’t you join the Party long ago?” 

Arthur looked suddenly vague; stroked his temples with 
his finger-tips: 

“The time was not ripe. No.” 

"And what does Schmidt say to all this?” I asked mis- 

Arthur gave the door a second hurried glance. As I had 
suspected, he was in a state of suspense lest liis secretary 
should suddenly walk in upon us. 

“I’m afraid Schmidt and I don’t quite see eye to eye on the 
subject just at present.” 

I grinned. “No doubt you’ll convert him in time.” 

“Shut up talking English, you two,” cried Otto, giving me 
a vigorous jog in the ribs. **Anni and I want to hear the joke. 

During supper we drank a good deal of beer. I must have 
been rather unsteady on my feet, because, when I stood up 
at the end of the meal, I knocked over my chair. On the under- 
side of the seat was pasted a ticket with the printed num- 
ber 69. 

“What’s this for?” I asked. 


"Oh, that?” said Arthur hastily; he seemed very much dis- 
concerted. “That's merely the catalogue number from the sale 
where I originally bought it. It must have been there all this 
time. . . . Anni, my love, do you think you and Otto would 
be so very kind as to carry some of the things into the kitchen 
and put them in the sink? I don t like to leave Hermann too 
much to do in the morning. It makes him cross with me for 
the rest of the day.” 

“What is that ticket for?” I repeated gently, as soon as they 
were outside. “I want to know.” 

Arthur sadly shook his head. 

“Ah, my dear William, nothings escapes your eye. Yet an- 
other of our domestic secrets is laid bare.” 

“Tm afraid I'm very dense. What secret?” 

“I rejoice to see that your young life has never been sullied 
by such sordid experiences. At your age, I regret to say, I had 
already made the acquaintance of the gentleman whose sign- 
manual you will find upon every piece of furniture in tifiis 

“Good God, do you mean the bailiff?” 

“I prefer the word Gerichtsvollzieher, It sounds so much 

“But, Arthur, when is he coming?” 

“He comes, I'm sorry to say, almost every morning. Some- 
times in the afternoon as well. He seldom finds me at home, 
however. I prefer to let Schmidt receive him. From what I 
have seen of him, he seems a person of little or no culture. I 
doubt if we should have anything in common.” 

“Won t he soon be taking everything away?” 

Arthur seemed to enjoy my dismay. He puffed at his ciga- 
rette with exaggerated nonchalance. 

“On Monday next, I believe.” 

“How frightful! CanT anything be done about it?” 

“Oh, undoubtedly sometitdng can be done about it. Some- 
thing wiU be done about it. I shall be compelled to pay an- 
other visit to my Scotch friend, Mr. Isaacs. Mr. Isaacs assures 
me that he comes of an old Scotch family, the Inverness 


Isaacs. The first time I had the pleasure of meeting him, he 
nearly embraced me: ‘Ah, my dear Mr. Norris/ he said, you 
are a countryman of mine/ ” 

“But, Arthur, if you go to a moneylender, youll only get 
into worse trouble still. Has this been going on for long? I al- 
ways imagined that you were quite rich." 

Arthui laughed: 

“I am rich, I hope, in the things of the Spirit . . . My dear 
boy, please don’t alarm yourself on my account. Ive been 
living on my wits for nearly thirty years now, and I propose to 
continue doing so until such time as I am called into the, Im 
afraid, not altogether approving company of my fathers." 

Before I could ask any more questions, Anni and Otto re- 
turned from the kitchen. Arthur greeted them gaily and soon 
Anni was sitting on his knee, resisting his advances with slaps 
and bites, while Otto, having taken off his coat and rolled up 
his sleeves, was absorbed in trying to repair the gramo- 
phone. There seemed no place for myself in this domestic 
tableau and I soon said that I must be going. 

Otto came downstairs with a key to let me out of the house 
door. In parting, he gravely raised his clenched fist in salute: 

“Red Front.” 

“Red Front," I answered. 


One morning, not long after this, Frl. Schroeder came shuf- 
fling into my room in great haste, to tell me that Arthur was on 
the telephone. 

“It must be something very serious. Herr Norris didn’t even 


say good morning to me.” She was impressed and rather hurt. 

“Hullo, Arthur. What's the matter?” 

“For Heavens sake, my dear boy, don’t ask me any ques- 
tions now.” His tone was nervously irritable and he spoke so 
rapidly that I could barely understand him. “It’s more than I 
can bear. All I want to know is, can you come here at once?” 

“Well . . . I’ve got a pupil coming at ten o’clocL” 

“Can’t you put him off?” 

“Is it as important as all that?” 

Arthur uttered a little cry of peevish exasperation: “Is it 
important? My dear William, do please endeavour to exer- 
cise your imagination. Should I be ringing you up at this un- 
earthly hour if it wasn’t important? All I beg of you is a plain 
answer: Yes or No. If it’s a question of money, I shall be only 
too glad to pay you your usual fee. How much do you 

“Shut up, Arthur, and don’t be absurd. If it’s urgent, of 
course I’ll come. I’ll be with you in twenty minutes.” 

I found all the doors of the flat standing open, and walked 
in unannounced. Arthur, it appeared, had been rushing wildly 
from room to room like a flustered hen. At the moment, he 
was in the sitting-room, dressed ready to go out, and nerv- 
ously pulling on his gloves. Hermann, on his knees, rum- 
maged sulkily in a cupboard in the hall. Schmidt lounged in 
the doorway of the study, a cigarette between his lips. He did 
not make the least effort to help and was evidently enjoying 
his employer’s distress. 

“Ah, here you are, William, at last!” cried Arthur, on seeing 
me. “I thought you were never coming. Oh dear, oh dear! Is it 
as late as that already? Never mind about my grey hat. Come 
along, William, come along. I’ll explain everydiing to you on 
the way.” 

Schmidt gave us an unpleasant, sarcastic smile as we went 

When we were comfortably settled on the top of a bus, 
Arthur became calmer and more coherent. 


“First of all/’ he fumbled rapidly in all his pockets and pro- 
duced a folded piece of paper: “Please read that.” 

I looked at it. It was a Vorladung from the Political Police. 
Herr Arthur Norris was requested to present himself at the 
Alexanderplatz that morning before one o’clock. What would 
happen should he fail to do so was not stated. The wording 
was oflBoial and coldly polite. 

“Good God, Arthur,” I said, “whatever does this mean? 
What have you been up to now?” 

In spite* of his nervous alarm, Arthur displayed a certain 
modest pride. 

“I flatter myself that my association with,” he lowered his 
voice and glanced quickly at our fellow passengers, “the rep- 
resentatives of the Third International has not been entirely 
unfruitful. I am told that my efforts have even excited favour- 
able comment in certain quarters in Moscow. . . . I told you, 
didn’t I, that I’d been in Paris? Yes, yes, of course. . . . Well, 
I had a little mission there to fulfil. I spoke to certain highly 
placed individuals and brought back certain instructions. 

. . . Never mind that now. At all events, it appears that the 
authorities here are better informed than we’d supposed. 
That is what I have to find out. The whole question is ex- 
tremely delicate. I must be careful not to give anything 

“Perhaps theyll put you through the third degree.” 

“Oh, William, how can you say anything so dreadful? You 
make me feel quite faint.” 

“But, Arthur, surely that would be ... I mean, wouldn’t 
you rather enjoy it?” 

Arthur giggled: “Ha, ha. Ha, ha. I must say this, William, 
that even in the darkest hour your humour never fails to 
restore me. . . , Well, well, perhaps if the examination were 
to be conducted by Frl. Anni, or some equally charming 
young lady, I might undergo it with — er — ^very mixed feel- 
ings. Yes.” Uneasily he scratched his chin. “I shall need your 
moral support. You must come and hold my hand. And if 


tills,'' he glanced nervously over his shoulder, “interview 
should terminate unpleasantly, I shall ask you to go to Bayer 
and tell him exactly what has happened." 

“Yes, I will. Of course." 

When we had got out of the bus on the Alexanderplatz, 
poor Arthur was so shaky that I suggested going into a res- 
taurant and drinking a glass of cognac. Seated at a little table 
we regarded the immense drab mass of the Praesidium build- 
ings from the opposite side of the roadway. 

“The enemy fortress,” said Arthur, “into which ^poor little 
I have got to venture, all alone." 

“Remember David and Goliath." 

“Oh, dear. I'm afraid the Psalmist and I have very little in 
common this morning. I feel more like a beetle about to be 
squashed by a steam-roller. . . . It's a curious fact that, since 
my earliest years, I have had an instinctive dislike of the po- 
lice. The very cut of their uniforms offends me, and the Ger- 
man helmets are not only hideous but somehow rather sin- 
ister. Merely to see one of them filling in an oflBcial form in 
that inhuman copy-book handwriting gives me a sinking feel- 
ing in the stomach." 

“Yes, I know what you mean." 

Arthur brightened a little. 

“I'm very glad I've got you with me, William. You have 
such a sympathetic manner. I could wish for no better com- 
panion on die morning of my execution. The very opposite of 
that odious Schmidt, who simply gloats over my misfortune. 
Nothing makes him happier than to be in a position to say — 
T told you so.' " 

“After all, there's nothing very much they can do to you in 
there. They only knock workmen about. Remember, you be- 
long to the same class as their masters. You must make them 
feel that." 

“I'll try," said Arthur doubtfully. 

“Have another cognac?" 

“Perhaps I will, yes.” 

The second cognac worked wonders. We emerged from the 


restaurant into the still, clammy autumn morning, laughing, 
arm in arm. 

‘‘Be brave. Comrade Norris. Think of Lenin.’" 

“I’m afraid, ha, ha, I find some inspiration in the Marquis 
de Sade.'’ 

But the atmosphere of the police headquarters sobered him 
considerably. Increasingly apprehensive and depressed, we 
wandered along vistas of stone passages with numbered 
doors, were misdirected up and down flights of stairs, col- 
lided with hurrying oflBcials who carried bulging dossiers of 
crimes. At length we came out into a courtyard, overlooked 
by windows with heavy iron bars. 

“Oh dear, oh dear!” moaned Arthur. “We’ve put our heads 
into the trap this time. I’m afraid.” 

At this moment a piercing whistle sounded from above. 

“Hullo, Arthur!” 

Looking down from one of the barred windows high above 
was Otto. 

“What did they get you for?” he shouted, jocularly. Before 
either of us could answer, a figure in uniform appeared beside 
him at the window and hustled him away. The apparition 
was as brief as it was disconcerting. 

“They seem to have rounded up the whole gang,” I said, 

“It’s certainly very extraordinary,” said Arthur, much per- 
turbed. “I wonder if . . 

We passed under an archway, up more stairs, into a honey- 
comb of little rooms and dark passages. On each floor were 
wash-basins, painted a sanitary green. Arthur consulted his 
Vorladung and found the number of the room in which he 
was to present himself. We parted in hurried whispers. 

“Good-bye, Arthur. Good luck. I’ll wait for you here.” 

“Thank you, dear boy. . . . And supposing the worst 
comes to the worst, and I emerge from this room in custody, 
don’t speak to me or make any sign that you know me unless 
I speak to you. It may be advisable not to involve you. . . . 
Here’s Bayer’s address; in case you have to go there alone ” 


certain I shan't/' 

“There's one more thing I wanted to say to you/' Arthur 
had the manner of one who mounts the steps of the scaffold. 
“I'm sorry if I was a little hasty over the telephone this morn- 
ing. I was very much upset. ... If this were to be our last 
meeting for some time, I shouldn't like you to remember it 
against me." 

“What rubbish, Arthur. Of course I shan't. Now run along, 
and let's get this over." 

He pressed my hand, knocked timidly at the door and went 

I sat down to wait for him, under a blood-red poster adver- 
tising the reward for betraying a murderer. My bench was 
shared by a fat Jewish slum-lawyer and his client, a tearful 
little prostitute. 

“All you've got to remember,” he kept telling her, “is that 
you never saw him again after the night of the sixth.” 

“But they'll get it out of me somehow,” she sobbed. “I 
know they will. It's the way they look at you. And then they 
ask you a question so suddenly. You've no time to think.” 

It was nearly an hour before Arthur reappeared. I could 
see at once from his face that the interview hadn't been so 
bad as he'd anticipated. He was in a great hurry. 

“Come along, William. Come along. I don't care to stay 
here any longer than I need.” 

Outside in the street, he hailed a taxi and told the chauffeur 
to drive to the Hotel Kaiserhof, adding, as he nearly always 

“There's no need to drive too fast.” 

^The Kaiserhof!” I exclaimed. “Are we going to pay a call 
on Hitler?” 

“No, William. We are not . . . although, I admit, I derive 
a certain pleasure from dallying in the camp of the enemy. 
Do you know, I have lately made a point of being manicured 
Ihere? They have a very good man. To-day, however, I have 
a quite different object. Bayer's o£Bce is also in the Wilhelm- 


strasse. It didn’t seem altogether discreet to drive directly 
from here to there.” 

Accordingly, we performed the comedy of entering the 
hotel, drinking a cup of coffee in the lounge and glancing 
through the morning papers. To my disappointment, we 
didn’t see Hitler or any of the other Nazi leaders. Ten min- 
utes latf r, we came out again into the street. I found myself 
squinting rapidly to right and left, in search of possible de- 
tectives. ArAur s police-obsession was exceedingly catch- 

Bayer inhabited a large untidy flat on the top floor of one 
of the shabbier houses beyond the Zimmerstrasse. It was 
certainly a striking enough contrast to what Arthur called 
“the camp of the enemy,” die padded, sombre, luxurious hotel 
we had just left. The door of the flat stood permanently ajar. 
Inside, the walls were hung with posters in German and Rus- 
sian, notices of mass meetings and demonstrations, anti-war 
cartoons, maps of industrial areas and graphs to illustrate the 
dimensions and progress of strikes. There were no carpets on 
the bare unpainted floor-boards. The rooms echoed to the 
rattle of typewriters. Men and women of all ages wandered in 
and out or sat chatting on upturned sugar-boxes waiting for 
interviews; patient, good-humoured, quite at home. Every- 
body seemed to know everybody; a newcomer was greet^ 
almost invariably by his or her Christian name. Even stran- 
gers were addressed as Thou. Cigarette smoking was general 
The floors were littered with crushed-out stubs. 

In the midst of this informal, cheerful activity, we found 
Bayer himself, in a tiny shabby room, dictating a letter to the 
girl whom I had seen on the platform at die meeting in 
NeukoUn. He seemed pleased but not especially surprised to 
see Arthur. 

“Ah, my dear Norris. And what can I do for you?” 

He spoke English with great emphasis and a strong foreign 
accent. I thought I had never seen anybody with such beau- 
tiful teeth. 


‘Tou have been already to see them?’' he added. 

“Yes ” said Arthur. “We’ve just come from there.'’ 

The girl secretary got up and went out, closing the door 
behind her. Arthur, his elegantly gloved hands resting de- 
murely in his lap, began to describe his interview with the 
officials at the Polizeipraesidium. Bayer sat back in his chair 
and listened. He had extraordinarily vivid animal eyes of a 
dark reddish brown. His glance was direct, challenging, bril- 
liant as if with laughter, but his lips did not even smile. Lis- 
tening to Arthur, his face and body became quite still. He did 
not once nod, or shift his position, or fidget with his hands. 
His mere repose suggested a force of concentration which 
was hypnotic in its intensity. Arthur, I could see, felt this also; 
he squirmed uneasily on his seat and carefully avoided look- 
ing Bayer in the eyes. 

Arthur began by assuring us that the officials had treated 
him most politely. One of 3iem had helped him off with his 
coat and hat, the other had offered him a chair and a cigar. 
Arthur had taken the chair, the cigar he had refused; he made 
a considerable point of this, as though it were a proof of his 
singular strong-mindedness and integrity. Thereupon, the 
official, still courteous, had asked permission to smoke. This 
Arthur had granted. 

There had followed a discussion, cross-examination dis- 
guised as chat, about Arthur’s business activities in Berlin. 
Arthur was careful not to go into details here. “It wouldn’t 
interest you,” he told Bayer. I gathered, however, that the 
officials had politely* succeeded in frightening him a good 
deal. They were far too well informed. 

These preliminaries over, the real questioning began. ‘We 
understand, Mr. Norris, that you have recently made a jour- 
ney to Paris. Was this visit in connection with your private 

Arthur had been ready for this, of course. Perhaps too 
ready. His explanations had been copious. The official had 
punctured them with a single affable inquiry. He had named 


a name and an address which Mr. Norris had twice visited, 
on the evening of his arrival and on the morning of his de- 
parture. Was this, also, a private business interview? Arthur 
didn’t deny that he had had a nasty shock. Nevertheless, he 
had been, he claimed, exceedingly discreet. T wasn’t so silly 
as to deny anything, of course. I made light of the whole 
matter. J think I impressed them favourably. They were 
shaken, I could see that, distinctly shaken.” 

Arthur paused, added modestly: “I flatter myself that I 
know how to handle that particular kind of situation pretty 
well. Yes.” 

His tone appealed for a word of encouragement, of con- 
firmation, here. But Bayer didn’t encourage, didn’t condemn, 
didn’t speak or move at all. His dark brown eyes continued to 
regard Arthur with the same brilliant attention, smiling and 
alert. Arthur uttered a short nervous cough. 

Anxious to interest that impersonal, hypnotic silence, he 
made a great deal of his narrative. He must have talked for 
nearly half an hour. Actually, there wasn’t much to tell. The 

E olice, having displayed the extent of their knowledge, had 
astened to assure Mr. Norris that his activities did not in- 
terest them in the least, provided that these activities were 
confined to foreign countries. As for Germany itself, that, 
of course, was a different matter. The German Republic 
welcomes all foreign guests, but requires them to remem- 
ber that certain laws of hospitality govern guest as well 
as host. In short, it would be a great pity if the German 
Republic were ever to be deprived of the pleasure of 
Mr. Norris’ society. The official felt sure that Mr, Norris, 
as a man of the world, would appreciate his point of 

Finally, just as Arthur was making for the door, having 
been helped on with his overcoat and presented with his hat, 
came a last question asked in a tone which suggested that 
it hadn’t the remotest connection with anything which had 
previously been said: 


“You have recently become a member of the Communist 

“I saw the trap at once, of course ” Arthur told us. “It was 
simply a trap. But I had to think quickly; any hesitation in 
answering would have been fatal. They re so accustomed to 
notice these details. ... I am not a member of the Com- 
munist Party, I said to them, nor of any other Left Wing 
organization. I merely sympathize v^th the attitude of the 
K.P.D. to certain non-political problems. ... I think that 
was the right answer? I think so. Yes.” 

At last Bayer both smiled and spoke. “You have acted quite 
right, my dear Norris.” He seemed subtly amused. 

Arthur was as pleased as a stroked cat. 

“Comrade Bradshaw was of great assistance to me.” 

“Oh yes?” 

Bayer didn’t ask how. 

“You have interest for our movement?” 

His eyes measured me for the first time. No, he was not 
impressed. Equally, he did not condemn. A young bourgeois 
intellectual, he thought. Enthusiastic, within certain limits. 
Educated, within certain limits. Capable of response if ap- 
pealed to in terms of his own class-language. Of some small 
use: everybody can do something. I felt myself blushing 

“I’d like to help you if I could,” I said. 

“You speak German?” 

“He speaks excellent German,” put in Arthur, like a mother 
recommending her son to the notice of the headmaster. Smil- 
ingly, Bayer considered me once more. 


He turned over the papers on his desk. 

“Here is some translation which you could be so kind as to 
do for us. WiU you please translate this in English? As you 
will see, it is a report of our work during the past year. From 
it you wiU learn a little about our aims. It should interest you, 
I think.” 

He handed me a thick wad of manuscript, and rose to his 


feet. He was even smaller and broader than he had seemed 
on the platform. He laid a hand on Arthur’s shoulder. 

‘‘Tliis is most interesting, what you have told me.” He 
shook hands with both of us, gave a brilliant parting smile: 
“And you will please/’ he added comically to Arthur, “avoid 
to entangle this young Mr. Bradshaw in your distress.” 

“Indeed, I assure you I shouldn’t dream of such a thing. 
His safety is almost, if not quite, as dear to me as my own. 
. . . Well, ha ha, I won’t waste any more of your vduable 
time. Good-bye.” 

The interview with Bayer had quite restored Arthur’s spir- 

“You made a good impression on him, William. Oh yes, 
you did. I could see that at once. And he’s a very shrewd 
judge of character. I think he was pleased vdth what I said 
to them at the Alexanderplatz, wasn’t he?” 

“I’m sure he was.” 

“I think so, yes.” 

“Who is he?” I asked. 

“I know very little about him, myself, William. I’ve heard 
that he began life as a research chemist. I don’t think his 
parents were working people. He doesn’t give one that im- 
pression, does he? In any case, Bayer isn’t his real name.” 

After this meeting, I felt anxious to see Bayer again. I did 
the translation as quickly as I could, in the intervals of giving 
lessons. It took me two days. The manuscript was a report 
on the aims and progress of various strikes, and the measures 
taken to supply food and clothing to the families of the strik- 
ers. My chief difficulty was with the numerous and ever- 
recurring groups of initial letters which represented the 
names of the different organizations involved. As I did not 
know what most of these organizations were called in Eng- 
lish, I didn’t know what letters to substitute for those in the 

“It is not so important,” replied Bayer, when I asked him 
about this. “We attend to this matter ourselves.” 


Something in his tone made me feel humiliated. The manu- 
script he had given me to translate was simply not important. 
It would probably never be sent to England at all. Bayer had 
given it me, like a toy, to play with, hoping, no doubt, to be 
rid of my tiresome, useless enthusiasm for a week at least. 

“You find this work interesting?” he continued. “I am glad. 
It is necessary for every man and woman in our have 
knowledge of this problem. You have read something from 

I said that I had once tried to read Das Kapital • 

“Ah, tliat is too difficult, for a beginning. You should try 
the Communist Manifesto. And some of Lenihs pamphlets. 
Wait, I will give you . . .” 

He was amiability itself. He seemed in no hurry to get rid 
of me. Could it really be that he had no more important way 
of spending the afternoon? He asked about the living condi- 
tions in the East End of London and I tried to eke out the 
little knowledge I had collected in the course of a few days' 
slumming, three years before. His mere attention was flattery 
of the most stimulating kind. I found myself doing nearly all 
the talking. Half an hour later, with books and more papers 
to translate under my arm, I was about to say good-bye when 
Bayer asked: 

“You have known Norris a long time?” 

“More than a year, now,” I replied, automatically, my 
mind registering no reaction to the question. 

“Indeed? And where did you meet?” 

This time I did not miss the tone in his voice. I looked hard 
at him. But his extraordinary eyes were neither suspicious, 
nor threatening, nor sly. Smiling pleasantly, he simply waited 
in silence for my answer, 

“We got to know each other in the train, on the way to 

Bayers glance became faintly amused. With disarming, 
bland directness, he asked: 

‘Tfou are good friends? You go to see him often?” 

“Oh yes. Very often.” 


“You have not many English friends in Berlin, I think?’’ 


Bayer nodded seriously. Then he rose from his chair and 
shook my hand. “I have to go now and work. If there is any- 
thing you wish to say to me, please do not hesitate to come 
and see me at any time.” 

“Thank you very much.” 

So that was it, I thought, on my way down the shabby stair- 
case. None of them trusted Arthur. Bayer didn’t trust him 
but he wars prepared to make use of him, with all due pre- 
cautions. And to make use of me, too, as a convenient spy 
on Arthur s movements. It wasn’t necessary to let me into 
the secret. I could so easily be pumped. I felt angry, and 
at the same time rather amused. 

After all, one couldn’t blame them. 


Otto turned up at Arthur’s about a week later, unshaved and 
badly in need of a meal. They had let him out of prison the 
day before. When I went round to the flat that evening, I 
found him with Arthur in the dining-room, having just 
finished a substantial supper. 

“And what did they use to give you on Sundays?” he was 
asking as I came in. “We got pea-soup with a sausage in it. 
Not so bad.” 

“Let me see now,” Arthur reflected. “I’m afraid I really 
can’t remember. In any case, I never had much appetite. 
• . . Ah, my dear William, here you arel Please take a chair. 


That is, if you don’t disdain the company of two old gaol- 
birds. Otto and I were just comparing notes.” 

The day before Arthur and I visited the Alexanderplatz, 
Otto and Anni had had a quarrel. Otto had wanted to give 
fifteen pfennigs to a man who came round collecting for a 
strike fund of the I.A.H. Anni had refused to agree to this, 
‘"on principle.” “Why should the dirty communists have my 
money?” she had said. “I have to work hard enough to earn 
it.” The possessive pronoun challenged Otto’s accepted status 
and rights; he generously disregarded it. But the adjective 
had really shocked him. He had slapped her face, “not hard,” 
he assured us, but violently enough to make her turn a somer- 
sault over the bed and land with her head against the wall; 
the bump had dislodged a framed photograph of Stalin, 
which had fallen to the ground and smashed its glass. Anni 
had begun to curse him and cry. “That’ll teach you not to talk 
about tilings you don’t understand,” Otto had told her, not 
xmkindly. Communism had always been a delicate subject 
between them. “I’m sick of you,” cried Anni, “and all your 
bloody Reds. Get out of here!” She had thrown the 
photograph-frame at him and missed. 

Thinking all this over carefully, in the neighbouring Lokal, 
Otto had come to the conclusion that he was the injured 
party. Pained and angry, he began drinking Korn. He drank 
a good deal. He was stiU drinking at nine o’clock in the 
evening, when a boy named Erich, whom he knew, came in, 
selling biscuits. Erich, with his basket, went the rounds of the 
cafes and restaurants in the whole district, carrying messages 
and picking up gossip. He told Otto that he had just seen 
Anni in a Nazi Lokal on the Kreuzberg, with Werner Baldow. 

Werner was an old enemy of Otto’s, both political and 
private. A year ago, he had left the communist cell to which 
Otto belonged and joined the local Nazi storm-troop. He had 
always been sweet on Anni. Otto, who was pretty drunk by 
this time, did what even he would never have dared when 
sober; he jumped up and set off for the Nazi Lokal alone. 
Two policemen who happened to pass the place a minute or 
two iter he entered it probably saved him from getting 


broken bones. He had just been flung out for the second time 
and wanted to go in again. The policemen removed him with 
difficulty; he bit and kicked on the way to the station. The 
Nazis, of course, were virtuously indignant. The incident 
featured in their newspapers next day as “an unprovoked and 
cowardly attack on a National-Socialist Lokal by ten armed 
commuiusts, nine of whom made a successful escape.” Otto 
had the cutting in his pocket-book and showed it to us with 
pride. He had been unable to get at Werner himself. Werner 
had retreated with Anni into a room at the back of the 
Lokal as soon as he had come in. 

“And he can keep her, the dirty bitch,” added Otto vio- 
lently. “I wouldn’t have her again if she came to me on her 

“Well, well,” Arthur began to murmur automatically, “we 
live in stirring times . . .” 

He pulled himself up abruptly. Something was wi*ong. His 
eyes wandered uneasily over the array of plates and dishes, 
like an actor deprived of his cue. There was no tea-pot on the 

Not many days after this, Arthur telephoned to tell me 
that Otto and Anni had made it up. 

“I felt sure you’d be glad to hear. I may say that I my- 
self was to some extent instrumental in the good work. Yes, 
, . . Blessed are the peacemakers. ... As a matter of fact, 
I was particularly interested in effecting a reconciliation 
just now, in view of a little anniversary which falls due next 
Wednesday. . . . You didn’t know? Yes, I shall be fifty-three. 
Thank you, dear boy. Thank you. I must confess I find it 
difficult to become accustomed to the thought that the yel- 
low leaf is upon me. . . , And now, may I invite you to a 
trifling banquet? The fair sex will be represented. Besides 
the reunited pair, there will be Madame Olga and two other 
of my more doubtful and charming acquaintances. I shall 
have the sitting-room carpet taken up, so that the younger 
members of the party can dance. Is that nice?” 

Weiy nice indeed.” 


On Wednesday evening I had to give an unexpected lesson 
and arrived at Arthur’s flat later Sian I intended. I found 
Hermann waiting downstairs at the house door to let me in. 

‘I’m so sorry,” I said. “I hope you haven’t been standing 
here long?” 

“It’s all right,” Hermann answered briefly. He unlocked 
the door and led the way upstairs. What a dreary creature 
he is, I thought. He can’t even brighten up for a birthday 

I discovered Arthur in the sitting-room. He was reclining 
on the sofa in his shiit-sleeves, his hands folded in his lap. 

“Here you are, William.” 

“Arthur, I’m most terribly sorry. I hurried as much as I 
could. I thought I should never get away. That old girl I 
told you about arrived unexpectedly and insisted on having 
a two-hour lesson. She merely wanted to tell me about the 
way her daughter had been behaving. I thought she’d never 
stop. . . . Why, what’s the matter? You don’t look weU,” 

Arthur sadly scratched his chin. 

“I’m very depressed, dear boy.” 

“But why? What about? ... I say, where are your other 
guests? Haven’t they come yet?” 

“They came. I was obliged to send them away.” 

“Then you are ill?” 

“No, WiUiam. Not ill, I fear I’m getting old, I have always 
hated scenes and now I find them altogether too much for 

“Who’s been making a scene?” 

Arthur raised himself slowly from his chair. I had a sud- 
den glimpse of him as he would be in twenty years’ time; 
shaky and rather pathetic. 

“It’s a long story, WiUiam. ShaU we have something to eat 
first? I’m afraid I can only offer you scrambled eggs and 
beer; if indeed there is any beer.” 

“It doesn’t matter if there isn’t. I’ve brought you a little 

I produced a bottle of cognac which I had been holding 
behind my back. 


"‘My dear boy, you overwhelm me. You shouldn’t, you 
know. You really shouldn’t. Are you sure you can afford it?” 

“Oh yes, easily. Tm saving quite a lot of money nowadays.” 

“I always,” Arthur shook his head sadly, “look upon the 
capacity to save money as little short of miraculous.” 

Our footsteps echoed loudly through the flat as we crossed 
the bar^ boards where the carpet had been. 

“All was prepared for the festivities, when the spectre ap- 
peared to forbid the feast,” Arthur chuckled nervously and 
rubbed his hands together. 

“Ah, but the Apparition, the dumb sign, 

The beckoning finger bidding me forgo 
The fellowship, the converse and the wine, 

The songs, the festal glow! 

“Rather apt here, I think. I hope you know your William 
Watson? I have always regarded him as the greatest of die 

The dining-room was draped with paper festoons in prep- 
aration for the party; Chinese lanterns were suspended 
above the table. On seeing them, Arthur shook his head. 

“Shall we have these things taken down, Wilham? Will 
they depress you too much, do you think?” 

“I don’t see why they should,” I said. “On the contrary, 
they ought to cheer us up. After all, whatever has happened, 
it’s still your birthday.” 

“Well, well. You may be right. You’re always so philo- 
sophical. The blows of fate are indeed cruel.” 

Hermann gloomily brought in the eggs. He reported, with 
rather bitter satisfaction, that there was no butter. 

“No butter,” Arthur repeated. “No butter. My humiliation 
as a host is complete. . . . Who would think, to see me 
now, that I have entertained more than one member of a 
royal family under my own roof? This evening, I had in- 
tended to set a sumptuous repast before you. I won’t make 
your mouth water by reciting the menu.” 

“I think the eggs are very nice. I’m only sorry that you 
had to send your guests away.” 


“So am I, William. So am I. Unfortunately, it was impos- 
sible to ask them to stay. I shouldn't have dared face Anni's 
displeasure. She was naturally expecting to find a groaning 
board. . . . And, in any case, Hermann told me there weren’t 
enough eggs in the house.” 

“Arthur, do tell me now what has happened.” 

He smiled at my impatience, enjoying a mystery, a,s always. 
Thoughtfully, he squeezed his collapsed chin between finger 
and thumb. 

“Well, William, the somewhat sordid story which I am 
about to relate to you centres on the sitting-room carpet.” 

“Which you had taken up for the dancing?” 

Arthur shook his head. 

“It was not, I regret to say, taken up for the dancing. That 
was merely a fagon de parler. I didn’t wish to distress one of 
your sympathetic nature unnecessarily.” 

“You mean, you’ve sold it?” 

“Not sold, William. You should know me better. I never 
sell if I can pavm.” 

“I’m sorry. It was a nice carpet.” 

“It was, indeed. . . , And worth very much more than 
the two hundred marks I got for it. But one mustn’t expect 
too much these days. ... At all events, it would have 
covered the expenses of the little celebration I had planned. 
Unfortunately,” here Arthur glanced towards the door, “the 
eagle, or, shall I say, the vulture eye of Schmidt lighted upon 
the vacant space left by the carpet, and his uncanny acumen 
rejected almost immediately the very plausible explanation 
which I gave for its disappearance. He was very cruel to 
me. Very firm. ... To cut a long story short, I was left, at 
the end of our most unpleasant interview, with the sum of 
four marks, seventy-five pfennigs. The last twenty-five pfen- 
nigs were an unfortunate afterthought. He wanted them for 
his bus-fare home.” 

“He actually took away your money?” 

“Yes, it was my money, wasn’t it?” said Arthur, eagerly, 
seizing this little crumb of encouragement. “That’s just what 


I told him. But he only shouted at me in the most dreadful 

‘1 never heard anything like it. I wonder you don t sack 

“Well, William, 111 tell you. The reason is very simple. I 
owe him nine months’ wages.” 

“Yes, I supposed there was something like that. All the 
same, its no reason why you should allow yourself to be 
shouted at. I wouldn’t have put up with it.” 

“Ah, my. dear boy, you’re always so firm. I only wish I’d 
had you there to protect me. I feel sure you would have 
been able to deal with him. Although I must say,” Arthur 
added doubtfully, “Schmidt can be terribly firm when he 

“But, Arthur, do you seriously mean to tell me that you 
intended spending two hundred marks on a dinner for seven 
people? I never heard anything so fantastic.” 

“There were to have been httle presents,” said Arthur 
meekly. “Something for each of you.” 

“It would have been lovely, of course. . . . But such ex- 
travagance. . . . You’re so hard up that you can only eat 
eggs, and yet, when you do get some cash, you propose to 
blow it immediately.” 

“Don’t you start lecturing me, too, William, or I shall cry. 
I can’t help my little weaknesses. Life would be drab in- 
deed if we didn’t sometimes allow ourselves a treat.” 

“All right,” I said, laughing. “I won’t lecture you. In your 
place, I’d probably have done just the same.” 

After supper, when we had returned with the cognac into 
the denuded sitting-room, I asked Arthur if he had seen 
Bayer lately. The change which came over his face at the 
mention of the name surprised me. His soft mouth pursed 
peevishly. Avoiding my glance, he frowned and abruptly 
shook his head. 

“I don’t go there more than I can help.” 


I had seldom seen him like this. He seemed, indeed, an- 


noyed with me for having asked the question. For a mo- 
ment he was silent. Then he broke out, with childish petu- 

‘1 don t go there because I don’t like to go. Because it up- 
sets me to go. The disorder in that office is terrible. It de- 
presses me. It offends a person of my sensibilities to see such 
entire lack of method. ... Do you know, the other day 
Bayer lost a most important document, and where do you 
diink it was found? In the waste-paper basket. Actually . . . 
to think that these people s wages are paid out of tlie hard- 
earned savings of the workers. It makes ones blood boil. 
. . . And, of course, the whole place is infested with spies. 
Bayer even knows their names. . . . And what does he do 
about it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He doesn’t seem to 
care. That’s what so infuriates me; that happy-go-lucky way 
of doing things. Why, in Russia, they’d simply be put against 
the wall and shot.” 

I grinned. Arthur as the militant revolutionary was a little 
too good to be true. 

‘‘You used to admire him so much.” 

“Oh, he’s an able enough man in his way. No doubt about 
that.” Arthur furtively rubbed his chin. His teeth were bared 
in a snarl of an old lion. “I’ve been very much disappointed 
in Bayer,” he added. 


“Yes.” Some last vestiges of caution visibly held him back. 
But no. The temptation was too exquisite: “William, if I 
tell you something, you must promise on all you hold sacred 
that it will go no farther.” 

“I promise.” 

“Very well. When I threw in my lot with the Party, or, 
rather, promised it my help (and though I say it who 
shouldn’t, I am in a position to help them in many quarters to 
which they have not hitherto had access) — 

“I’m sure you are.” 

“I stipulated, very naturally I think, for a (how shall I put 
it?) — ^let us say — a quid pro quo.** Arthur paused and glanced 


at me anxiously. "I hope, William, that that doesn’t shock 

“Not in the least.” 

“I’m very glad. I might have known that you’d look at the 
thing in a sensible light. . . . After all, one’s a man of the 
world. Flags and banners and catchwords are all very well 
for the rank and file, but the leaders know that a political 
campaign can’t be carried on witliout money. I talked this 
over with Bayer at the time when I was considering taking 
the plunge; and, I must say, he was very reasonable about it. 
He quite saw that, crippled as I am with five thousand 
pounds’ worth of debts. . . 

“My God, is it as much as that?” 

“It is, I’m sorry to say. Of course, not all my engagements 
are equally pressing. . , . Where was I? Yes. Crippled as I 
am with debts I am hardly in a position to be of much service 
to the Cause. As you know yourself, I am subject to all sorts 
of vulgar embarrassments.” 

“And Bayer agreed to pay some of them?” 

“You put things with your usual directness, William. Well, 
yes, I may say that he hinted, most distinctly hinted, that 
Moscow would not be ungrateful if I fulfilled my first mis- 
sion successfully. I did so. Bayer would be the first to admit 
that. And what has happened? Nothing. Of course, I know it’s 
not altogether his fault. His own salary and that of the typists 
and clerks in his ofiBce is often months overdue. But it’s none 
the less annoying for that. And I can’t help feeling that he 
doesn’t press my claim as much as he might. He even seems 
to regard it as rather funny when I come to him and com- 
plain that I’ve barely enough money for my next meal. . . . 
Do you know, I’m still owed for my trip to Paris? I had to 
pay the fare out of my own pocket; and imagining, naturally 
enough, that the expenses, at least, would be defrayed, I 
traveUed first class.” 

“Poor Arthur!” I had some trouble to avoid laughing, “And 
what shall you do now? Is there any prospect of this money 
coming after all?” 


T should think none,'" said Arthur gloomily. 

“Look here, let me lend you some. Tve got ten marks.” 

“No, thank you, William. I appreciate the thought, but I 
couldn’t borrow from you. I feel that it would spoil our 
beautiful friendship. No, I shall wait two days more; then I 
shall take certain steps. And, if these are not successful, I 
shall know what to do.” 

“You’re very mysterious.” For an instant, the thought even 
passed through my mind that Arthur was perhaps meditating 
suicide. But the very idea of his attempting to kill himseS 
was so absurd that it made me begin to smile. “I hope every- 
thing will go oiff all right,” I added, as we said good-bye. 

“So do I, my dear William. So do 1.” Arthur glanced cau- 
tiously down the staircase. “Please give my regards to the 
divine Schroeder.” 

“You really must come and visit us some day soon. It’s such 
a long time since you’ve been. She’s pining away without 

“With the greatest pleasure, when all these troubles are 
over. If they ever are.” Arthur sighed deeply. “Good night, 
dear boy. God bless you.” 


The next day, Thursday, I was busy with lessons. On Friday, 
I tried three times to ring up Arthur s flat, but the number 
was always engaged. On Saturday, I went away for the 
week-end to see some friends in Hamburg. I didn’t get back 
to Berlin until late on Monday afternoon. That evening I 
dialled Arthur’s number, wanting to tell him about my visitj 


again there was no reply. I rang four times, at intervals of 
half an hour, and then complained to the operator. She told 
me, in official language, that “the subscriber s instrument* 
was “no longer in use.” 

I wasnt particularly surprised. In the present state of 
Arthurs finances, it was hardly to be expected that he would 
have settled his telephone bill. All the same, I thought, he 
might have come to see me or sent a note. But no doubt he 
was busy, too. 

Three more days went by. It was seldom that we had ever 
let a whole week pass without a meeting or, at any rate, a 
telephone conversation. Perhaps Artliur was ill. Indeed, the 
more I thought about it, the surer I felt that this must be the 
explanation of his silence. He had probably worried himself 
into a nervous breakdown over his debts. And, all this while, 
I had been neglecting him. I felt suddenly very guilty. I 
would go round and see him, I decided, that same afternoon. 

Some premonition or pang of conscience made me hurry. 
I reached the Courbierestrasse in record time, ran quickly 
upstairs, and, still panting, rang the bell. After all, Arthur 
was no longer young. The life he had been leading was 
enough to break anybody down; and he had a weak heart. 
I must be prepared to hear serious news. Supposing. . . 
hullo, what was this? In my haste, I must have miscounted 
the number of floors. I was standing in front of a door with- 
out a name-plate: the door of a strange flat. It was one of 
those siUy embarrassing things which always happen when 
one lets oneself get flustered. My first impulse was to run 
away, up or down stairs, I wasn't quite sure which. But, 
after aU, I had rung these people's bell. The best thing would 
be to wait until somebody answered it, and then explain my 

I waited; one minute, two, three. The door didn't open. 
There was nobody at home, it seemed. I had been saved 
from making a fool of myself, after all. 

But now I noticed something else. On both the doors which 
faced me were little squares of paint which were darker 


than the rest of the woodwork. There was no doubt about 
it; they were the marks left by recently removed name- 
plates. I could even see the tiny holes where the screws 
had been. 

A kind of panic seized me. Within half a minute, I had 
run up the stairs to the top of the house, then down again to 
the bottom; very quickly and lightly, as one sometimes runs 
in a nightmare, Arthur s two name-plates were nowhere to 
be found. But wait: perhaps I was in the wrong house al- 
together. I had done stupider things before now.. I went out 
into the street and looked at the number over the entrance. 
No, there was no mistake there. 

I don’t know what I mightn’t have done, at that moment, 
if the portress herself hadn’t appeared. She knew me by 
sight and nodded ungraciously. She plainly hadn’t much use 
for Arthur’s callers. No doubt the visits of the bailiff had got 
the house a bad name. 

"If you’re looking for your friend,” she maliciously em- 
phasized the word, "you’re too late. He’s gone.” 


‘"Yes. Two days ago. The flat’s to let. Didn’t you know?” 

I suppose my face was a comic picture of dismay, for she 
added unpleasantly: "You aren’t the only one he didn’t tell. 
There’ve been a dozen round here already. Owed you some 
money, did he?” 

"Where’s he gone to?” I asked dully. 

"I’m sure I don’t know, or care. That cook of his comes 
round here and collects the letters. You’d better ask him.” 

"I can’t. I don’t know where he lives.” 

"Then I can’t help you,” said the portress with a certain 
vicious satisfaction. Arthur must have neglected to tip her. 
"Why don’t you try the police?” 

With this parting shot she went into her lodge and slammed 
the door. I walked slowly away down the street, feeling 
rather dazed. 

My question was soon answered, however. The next morn- 
ing I got a letter, dated from a hotel in Prague: 


My dear William, 

Do forgive me. I was compelled to leave Berlin at very 
short notice and under conditions of secrecy which made 
it impossible for me to communicate with you. The little 
operation about which I spoke to you was, alas, the re- 
verse of successful, and the doctor ordered an immediate 
change of air. So unhealthy, indeed, had the atmosphere 
of Berlin become for one of my peculiar constitution, 
tliat, had I remained another week, dangerous complica- 
tions would almost certainly have arisen. 

My lares and penates have all been sold and the pro- 
ceeds largely swallowed up by the demands of my 
various satellites. I don’t complain of that. They have, 
with one exception, served me faithfully, and the 
labourer is worthy of his hire. As for that one, I shall 
not permit his odious name to pass my lips again. Suf- 
fice it to say that he was and is a scoundrel of the 
deepest dye and has behaved as such. 

I find life here very pleasant. The cooking is good, not 
so good as in my beloved and incomparable Paris, 
whither I hope, next Wednesday, to wend my weary 
steps, but still far better than anything which barbarous 
Berlin could provide. Nor are the consolations of the 
fair and cruet sex absent. Already, under the grateful 
influence of civilized comfort, I put forth my leaves, I 
expand. To such an extent, indeed, have I already ex- 
panded that I fear I shall arrive in Paris almost devoid 
of means. Never mind. The Mammon of Unrighteous- 
ness will, no doubt, be ready to receive me into habita- 
tions which, if not everlasting, will at least give me time 
to look round. 

Please convey to our mutual friend my most fraternal 
greetings and tell him that I shall not fail, on arriving, 
to execute his various commissions. 

Do write soon and regale me with your inimitable 

As always, your affectionate 



My first reaction was to feel, perhaps unreasonably, angry. 
I had to admit to myself that my feeling for Arthur had been 
largely possessive. He was my discovery, my property. I was 
as hurt as a spinster who has been deserted by her cat. And 
yet, after all, how silly of me. Arthur was his own master; he 
wasn’t accountable to me for his actions. I began to look 
round for excuses for his conduct, and, hke an indulgent 
parent, easily found them. Hadn’t he, indeed, behaved with 
considerable nobility? Threatened from every side, he had 
faced his troubles alone. He had carefully avoided involving 
me in possible future unpleasantness with the authorities. 
After all, he had said to himself, I am leaving this country, 
but William has to stay here and earn his living; I have no 
right to indulge my personal feelings at his expense. I pic- 
tured Arthur taking a last hurried stroll down our street, 
glancing up with furtive sadness at the window of my room, 
hesitating, walking sorrowfully away. The end of it was 
that I sat down and wrote him a chatty, affectionate letter, 
asking no questions and, indeed, avoiding any remark which 
might compromise either him or myself. Frl. Schroeder, who 
was much upset at the news of Arthur s departure, added a 
long postscript. He was never to forget, she wrote, that there 
was one house in Berhn where he would always be welcome. 

My curiosity was far from being satisfied. The obvious 
thing was to question Otto, but where was I to find him? I 
decided to try Olga’s for a start. Anni, I knew, rented a bed- 
room there. 

I hadn’t seen Olga since that party in the small hours of 
the New Year; but Arthur, who sometimes visited her in the 
way of business, had told me a good deal about her from 
time to time. Like most people who still contrived to earn a 
living in those bankrupt days, she was a woman of numerous 
occupations. “Not to put too fine a point upon it,” as Arthur 
was fond of saying, she was a procuress, a cocaine-seller and 
a receiver of stolen goods; she also let lodgings, took in wash- 
ing and, when in the mood, did exquisite fancy needlework. 


Arthur once showed me a table-centre she had given him for 
Christmas which was quite a work of art. 

I found the house without difficulty and passed under the 
archway into the court. The courtyard was narrow and deep, 
like a coffin standing on end. The head of the coffin rested on 
the earth, for the house-fronts inclined slightly inwards. They 
were held apart by huge timber baulks, spanning the gap, 
high up, Against the grey square of sky. Down here, at the 
bottom, where the rays of the sun could never penetrate, 
there was a deep twilight, like the light in a mountain gorge. 
On three sides of the court were windows; on the fourSi, an 
immense blank wall, about eighty feet high, whose plaster 
surface had swollen into blisters and burst, leaving raw, 
sooty scars. At the foot of this ghastly precipice stood a queer 
little hut, probably an outdoor lavatory. Beside it was a 
broken hand-cart with only one wheel, and a printed notice, 
now almost illegible, stating the hours at which the inhab- 
itants of the tenement were allowed to beat their carpets. 

The staircase, even at this hour of the afternoon, was very 
dark. I stumbled up it, counting the landings, and knocked 
at a door which I hoped was the right one. There was a 
shuffle of slippers, a clink of keys, and the door opened a 
httle way, on the chain. 

*‘Who s there?” a woman's voice asked. 

“William,” I said. 

The name made no impression. The door began, doubt- 
fully, to shut. 

“A friend of Arthur s,” I added hastily, trying to make my 
voice sound reassuring. I couldn’t see what sort of person I 
was talking to; inside the flat it was pitch black. It was like 
speaking to a priest in a confessional. 

“Wait a minute,” said the voice. 

The door shut and the slippers shuffled away. Other foot- 
steps returned. The door reopened and the electric light 
was switched on in the narrow hall. On the threshold stood 
Olga herself. Her mighty form was enveloped in a Idmono 
of garish colours which she wore with lie majesty of a 


priestess in her ceremonial robes. I hadn’t remembered her 
as being quite so enormous. 

‘"Well?” she said. “What do you want?” 

She hadn’t recognized me. For all she knew I might be a 
detective. Her tone was aggressive and harsh; it showed not 
the least trace of hesitation or fear. She was ready for all 
her enemies. Her hard blue eyes, ceaselessly watchful as 
the eyes of a tigress, moved away over my shoulder into the 
gloomy well of the staircase. She was wondering whether I 
had come alone. 

“May 1 speak to Frl. Anni?” I said politely. 

“You can t. She’s busy.” 

My EngLsh accent had reassured her, however; for she 
added briefly: “Come inside,” and turned, leading the way 
into the sitting-room. She left me with entire indifference to 
shut the outer door. I did so meekly and followed. 

Standing on the sitting-room table was Otto, in his shirt- 
sleeves, tinkering with 3ie converted gasolier. 

“Why, it’s Willi!” he cried, jumping down and dealing me 
a staggering clap on the shoulder. 

We shook hands. Olga lowered herself into a chair facing 
mine with the deliberation and sinister dignity of a fortune- 
teller. The bracelets jangled harshly on her swollen wrists. I 
wondered how old she was; perhaps not more than thirty- 
five, for there were no wrinkles on her puffy, waxen face, 
I didn’t much like her hearing what I had to say to Otto, but 
she had plainly no intention of moving as long as I was in the 
fiat. Her blue doll’s eyes held mine in a brutal, unwinking 

“Haven’t 1 seen you somewhere before?” 

“You’ve seen me in this room,” I said, “drunk.” 

“So.” Olga’s bosom shook silently. She had laughed. 

“Did you see Arthur before he left?” I asked Otto, at the 
end of a long pause. 

Yes, Anni and Otto had both seen him, though quite by 
chance, as it appeared. Happening to look in on the Sunday 
afternoon, they had discovered Aiihm in the midst of his 


packing. There had been a great deal of telephoning and 
running hither and thither. And then Schmidt had appeared. 
He and Arthur had retired into the bedroom for a conference, 
and soon Otto and Anni had heard loud, angry voices. 
Schmidt had come out of the bedroom, with Arthur follow- 
ing him in a state of ineffectual rage. Otto hadn’t been able 
to understand very clearly what it was all about, but the 
Baron had had something to do with it, and money. Arthur 
was angry because of something Schmidt had said to the 
Baron; Sqhmidt was insulting and contemptuous by turns. 
Arthur had cried: ‘‘You’ve shown not only the blackest in- 
gratitude, but downright treachery!” Otto was quite posi- 
tive about this. The phrase seemed to have made a special 
impression on him; perhaps because the word “treachery” 
had a definitely political flavour in his mind. Indeed, he quite 
took it for granted that Schmidt had somehow betrayed the 
Communist Party. “The very first time I saw him, I said to 
Anni, 1 shouldn’t wonder if he’s been sent to spy on Arthur. 
He looks like a Nazi, with that great big swollen head of his.’ ” 

What followed had confirmed Otto in his opinion. Schmidt 
had been just about to leave the flat when he turned and 
said to Arthur: 

“Well, I’m off. rU leave you to the tender mercies of your 
precious communist friends. And when they’ve swindled you 
out of your last pfennig . . .” 

He hadn’t got any farther. For Otto, puzzled by all this 
talk and relieved at last to hear something which he could 
understand and resent, had taken Schmidt out of the flat by 
the back of the collar and sent him flying downstairs with 
a hearty kick on the bottom. Otto, in his narrative, dwelt on 
the kick with special pride and pleasure. It had been one of 
the kicks of his life, an inspired kick, beautifully judged and 
timed. He was anxious that I should understand just how and 
where it had landed. He made me stand up, and touched me 
lightly on the buttock with his toe. I was a little uneasy, 
knowing what an effort of self-control it cost him not to let 



“My word, Willi, you should have heard him land! Bing! 
Bong! Crash! For a minute he didn’t seem to know where he 
was or what had happened to him. And then he began to 
blubber, just like a baby. I was so weak with laughing at 
him you could have pushed me downstairs with one finger.’’ 

And Otto began to laugh now, as he said it. He laughed 
heartily, without the least malice or savagery. He bore the 
discomfited Schmidt no grudge. 

I asked whether anything more had been heard of him. 
Otto didn’t know. Schmidt had picked himself jup, slowly 
and painfully, sobbed out some inarticulate threat, and 
limped away downstairs. And Arthur, who had been present 
in the background, had shaken his head doubtfully and pro- 

“You shouldn’t have done that, you know.” 

“Arthur’s much too kind-hearted,” added Otto, coming to 
the end of his story. “He trusts everybody. And what thanks 
does he get for it? None. He’s always being swindled and 

No comment on this last remark seemed adequate. I said 
that I must be going. 

Something about me seemed to amuse Olga. Her bosom 
silently quivered. Without warning, as we reached the door, 
she gave my cheek a rough, deliberate pinch, as though she 
were plucking a plum from a tree. 

“You’re a nice boy,” she chuckled harshly. “You must come 
round here one evening. I’ll teach you something you didn’t 
know before.” 

“You ought to try it once with Olga, Willi,” Otto seriously 
advised. “It’s well worth the money.” 

“I’m sure it is,” I said politely, and hurried downstairs, 

A few days later, I had a rendezvous with Fritz Wendel at 
the Troika. Arriving rather too early, I sat down at the bar 
and found the Baron on the stool next to my own. 

“Hullo, Kuno!” 

“Good evening.” 


He inclined his sleek head stiffly. To my surprise, he didn t 
seem at all pleased to see me. Indeed, quite the reverse. His 
monocle gleamed poHte hostihty; his naked eye was evasive 
and shifty. 

“I haven’t seen you for ages,” I said brightly, trying to 
appear serenely unconscious of his manner. 

His eye travelled round the room; he was positively search- 
ing for help, but nobody answered his appeal. The place was 
stiU nearly empty. The barman edged over towards us. 

“What’ilj^ou have to drink?” I asked. His dislike of my 
society was beginning to intrigue me. 

“Er — nothing, thank you. You see, I have to be going.” 

“What, you’re leaving us so soon, Herr Baron?” put in the 
barman affably; unconsciously adding to his discomfort: 
“Why, you’ve hardly been here five minutes, you know.” 

“Have you heard from Arthur Norris?” With deliberate 
malice I disregarded his attempts to dismount from his stooL 
He couldn’t do so until I had pushed mine back a little. 

The name made Kuno visibly wince. 

“No.” His tone was icy. “I have not” 

“He’s in Paris, you know.” 


“Well,” I said heartily, “I mustn’t keep you any longer.” 
I held out my hand. He barely touched it. 


Released at last, he made like an arrow for the door. One 
might have thought that he was escaping from a plague 
hospital. The barman, discreetly smiling, picked up the coins 
and shovelled them into the till. He had seen spongers 
snubbed before. 

I was left with another mystery to solve. 

Like a long train which stops at every dingy little station, 
the winter dragged slowly past. Each week tibere were new 
emergency decrees. Briining’s weary episcopal voice issued 
commands to the shopkeepers, and was not obeyed. “It s 
Fascism,” complained the Social Democrats. “He’s weak,” 


said Helen Pratt. “What these swine need is a man with hair 
on his chest."’ The Hessen Document was discovered; but 
nobody really cared. There had been one scandal too many. 
The exhausted public had been fed with surprises to the 
point of indigestion. People said that the Nazis would be in 
power by Christmas; but Christmas came and they were not. 
Arthur sent me the compliments of the season on a post-card 
of the Eiffel Tower. 

Berlin was in a state of civil war. Hate exploded suddenly, 
without warning, out of nowhere; at street corners, in res- 
taurants, cinemas, dance halls, swimming-baths; at midnight, 
after breakfast, in the middle of the afternoon. Knives were 
whipped out, blows were dealt with spiked rings, beer-mugs, 
chair-legs or leaded clubs; bullets slashed the advertise- 
ments on the poster-columns, rebounded from the iron roofs 
of latrines. In the middle of a crowded street a young man 
would be attacked, stripped, thrashed and left bleeding on 
the pavement; in fifteen seconds it was all over and the as- 
sailants had disappeared. Otto got a gash over the eye with 
a razor in a battle on a fair-ground near the Copernicker- 
strasse. The doctor put in three stitches and he was in hos- 
pital for a week. The newspapers were full of death-bed 
photographs of rival martyrs, Nazi, Reichsbanner and Com- 
munist. My pupils looked at them and shook their heads, 
apologizing to me for the state of Germany. “Dear, dear!"" 
they said, “it"s terrible. It can"t go on."" 

The murder reporters and the jazz-writers had inflated the 
German language beyond recall. The vocabulary of news- 
paper invective (traitor, Versailles-lackey, murder-swine, 
Marx-crook, Hitler-swamp, Red-pest) had come to resemble, 
through excessive use, the formal phraseology of politeness 
employed by the Chinese. The word Liebe, soaring from the 
Goethe standard, was no longer worth a whore"s kiss. Spring, 
moonlight, youth, roses, girl, darling, heart. May: such was 
the miserably devaluated currency dealt in by the authors of 
all those tangoes, waltzes and fox-trots which advocated the 
private escape. Find a dear little sweetheart, they advised, 


and forget the slump, ignore the unemployed. Fly, they urged 
us, to Hawaii, to Naples, to the Never-Never-Vienna. Hugen- 
berg, behind the Ufa, was serving up nationalism to suit all 
tastes. He produced battlefield epics, farces of barrack-room 
life, operettas in which the jinks of a pre-war military aris- 
toa'acy were reclothed in the fashions of 1932. His brilliant 
directors and camera-men had to concentrate their talents on 
cynically beautiful shots of the bubbles in champagne and 
the sheen of lamplight on silk. 

And morning after morning, all over the immense, damp, 
dreary town and the packing-case colonies of huts in the 
suburb allotments, young men were waking up to another 
workless empty day to be spent as they could best contrive; 
selling bootlaces, begging, playing draughts in the hall of 
the Labour Exchange, hanging about urinals, opening the 
doors of cars, helping with crates in the markets, gossiping, 
lounging, steahng, overhearing racing tips, sharing stumps of 
cigarette-ends picked up in the gutter, singing folk-songs for 
groschen in courtyards and between stations in the carriages 
of the Underground Railway. After the New Year, the snow 
fell, but did not lie; there was no money to be earned by 
sweeping it away. The shopkeepers rang all coins on the 
counter for fear of the counterfeiters. Frl. Schroeder s astrolo- 
ger foretold the end of the world. “Listen,” said Fritz Wendel, 
between sips of a cocktail in the bar of the Eden Hotel, “I 
give a damn if this country goes communist. What I mean, 
we’d have to alter our ideas a bit. Hell, who cares?” 

At the beginning of March, the posters for the Presidential 
Election began to appear. Hindenburgs portrait, with an 
inscription in gothic lettering beneath it, struck a frankly 
religious note: “He hath kept faith with you; be ye faithful 
unto Him.” The Nazis managed to evolve a formula which 
dealt cleverly with this venerable icon and avoided the of- 
fence of blasphemy: “Honour Hindenburg; Vote for Hit- 
ler.” Otto and his comrades set out every night, with paint- 
pots and brushes, on dangerous expeditions. They climbed 
high walls, scrambled along roofs, squirmed tmder hoard- 


ings; avoiding the police and the S.A. patrols. And next 
morning, passers-by would see Thalmann s name boldly in- 
scribed in some prominent and inaccessible position. Otto 
gave me a bunch of little gum-backed labels; Vote for Thal- 
mann, the Workers’ Candidate. I carried these about in my 
pocket and stuck them on shop-windows and doors when no- 
body was looking. 

Briining spoke in the Sport Palace. We must vote for Plin- 
denburg, he told us, and save Germany. His gestures were 
sharp and admonitory; his spectacles gleamed -emotion in 
the limelight. His voice quivered with dry academic passion. 
^Inflation,” he threatened, and the audience shuddered. 
^‘Tannenberg,” he reverently reminded: there was prolonged 

Bayer spoke in the Lustgarten, during a snowstorm, from 
the roof of a van; a tiny, hatless figure gesticulating above 
the vast heaving sea of faces and banners. Behind him was 
the cold fagade of the Schloss; and, lining its stone balus- 
trade, the ranks of armed silent police. “Look at them,” cried 
Bayer. “Poor chaps! It seems a shame to make them stand out 
of doors in weather like this. Never mind; they’ve got nice 
thick coats to keep them warm. Who gave them those coats? 
We did. Wasn’t it kind of us? And who’s going to give us 
coats? Ask me another.” 

“So the old boy’s done the trick again,” said Helen Pratt. 
“I knew he would. Won ten marks off them at the office, the 
poor fools.” 

It was the Wednesday after the election, and we were 
standing on the platform of the Zoo Station. Helen had come 
to see me off in the train to England. 

“By the way,” she added, “what became of that queer card 
you brought along one evening? Morris, wasn’t his name?” 

“Norris ... I don’t know. I haven’t heard from him for 

It was strange that she should have asked that, because I 
had been thinking about Arthur myself, only a moment be- 


fore. In my mind, I always connected him with this station. 
It would soon be six months since he had gone away; it 
seemed like last week. The moment I got to London, I de- 
cided, I would write him a long letter. 


Nevertheless, I didn’t write. Why, I hardly know. I was lazy 
and the weather had turned warm. I thought of Arthur often; 
so often, indeed, that correspondence seemed unnecessary. 
It was as though we were in some kind of telephathic com- 
munication. Finally, I went into the country for four 
months, and discovered, too late, that I’d left the post-card 
with his address in a drawer somewhere in London. Anyhow, 
it didn’t much matter. He had probably left Paris ages ago 
by this time. If he wasn’t in prison. 

At the beginning of October I returned to Berlin. The dear 
old Tauentzienstrasse hadn’t changed. Looking out at it 
through the taxi window on my way from the station, I saw 
several Nazis in their new S.A. unifomis, now no longer for- 
bidden. They strode along the street very stiff, and were 
saluted enthusiastically by elderly civilians. Others were 
posted at street comers, rattling collecting-boxes. 

I climbed the familiar staircase. Before I had time to touch 
the bell, Frl. Schroeder mshed out to greet me with open 
arms. She must have been watching for my arrival. 

"Herr Bradshaw! Herr Bradshaw! Herr Bradshaw! So 
you’ve come back to us at last! I declare I must give you a 
hug! How well you’re looking! It hasn’t seemed the same 
since you’ve been away.” 


“How have things been going here, Frl. Schroeder?’' 

“Well ... I suppose 1 mustn’t complain. In the summer, 
they were bad. But now . . . Come inside, Herr Bradshaw, 
Tve got a surprise for you.” 

Gleefully she beckoned me across the hall, flung open the 
door of the living-room with a dramatic gesture. 


“My dear William, welcome to Germany 1” 

“I’d no idea . . 

“Herr Bradshaw, I declare you’ve grown!” 

“Well . . . well . . . this is indeed a happy reunion. Ber- 
lin is herself once more. I propose that we adjourn to my 
room and drink a glass in celebration of Herr Bradshaw’s 
return. You’ll join us, Frl. Schroeder, I hope?” 

“Oh . . . Most kind of you, Herr Norris, I’m sure.” 

“After you.” 

“No, please.” 

“I couldn’t think of it.” 

There was a good deal more polite deprecation and bow- 
ing before the two of them finally got through the doorway. 
Familiarity didn’t seem to have spoilt their manners. Arthur 
was as gallant, Frl. Schroeder as coquettish as ever. 

The hig front bedroom was hardly recognizable. Arthur 
had moved the bed over into the corner by the window and 
pushed the sofa nearer to the stove. The stuffy-smelling pots 
of ferns had disappeared, so had the numerous little crochet 
mats on the dressing-table, and the metal figures of dogs on 
the bookcase. The diree gorgeously tinted photochromes of 
bathing nymphs were also missing; in their place I recog- 
nized iJiree etchings which had hung in Arthur’s dining-room. 
And, concealing the wash-stand, was a handsome Japanese 
lacquer screen which used to stand in the hail of the Cour- 
bierestrasse fiat. 

“Flotsam,” Arthur had followed the direction of my glance, 
“which I have been able, happily, to save from the wreck.” 

“Now, Herr Bradshaw,” put in Frl. Schroeder, “tell me 
your candid opinion. Herr Norris will have it that those 


nymphs were ugly. I always thought them sweetly pretty 
myself. Of course, I know some people would call them old- 

“I shouldn't have said they were ugly,” I replied, diplo- 
matically. “But it s nice to have a change sometimes, don’t 
you think?” 

“Change is the spice of Life,” Arthur murmured, as he 
fetched glasses from the cupboard. Inside, I caught sight of 
an array of bottles: “Which may I ofEer you, William — klim- 
mel or Benedictine? Frl. Schroeder, I know, prefers cherry 
brandy.” ‘ 

Now that I could see the two of them by daylight, I was 
struck by the contrast. Poor Frl. Schroeder seemed to have 
got much older; indeed, she was quite an old woman. Her 
face was pouched and wrinkled with worry, and her skin, 
despite a ^ck layer of rouge and powder, looked sallow. She 
hadn’t been getting enough to eat. Arthur, on the other hand, 
looked positively younger. He was fatter in the cheeks and 
fresh as a rosebud; barbered, manicured and perfumed. He 
wore a big turquoise ring I hadn’t seen before, and an opulent 
new brown suit. His wig struck a daring, more luxuriant 
note. It was composed of glossy, waved locks, which 
wreathed themselves around his temples in tropical abun- 
dance. There was something jaunty, even bohemian, in his 
whole appearance. He might have been a popular actor or a 
rich violinist. 

“How long have you been back here?” I asked. 

“Let me see, it must be nearly two months now , , . how 
time flies! I really must apologize for my shortcomings as a 
correspondent. I’ve been so very busy; and Frl. Schroeder 
seemed uncertain of your London address.” 

'We’re neither of us much good at letter-writing. I’m 

“The spirit was willing, dear boy. I hope you’ll believe that. 
You were ever-present in my thoughts. It is indeed a pleasure 
to have you back again. I feel that a load has been lifted 
from my mind already.” 


This sounded rather ominous. Perhaps he was on the rocks 
again. I only hoped that poor Frl. Schroeder wouldn’t have 
to suffer for it. There she sat, glass in hand, on the sofa, beam- 
ing, drinking in every word; her legs were so short that her 
black velvet shoes dangled an inch above the carpet. 

“Just look, Herr Bradshaw,” she extended her wrist, “what 
Herr Norris gave me for my birthday. I was so delighted, will 
you believe me, that I started crying?” 

It was a handsome-looking gold bracelet which must have 
cost at least fifty marks. I was really touched: 

“How nice of you, Arthur!” 

He blushed. He was quite confused. 

“A trifling mark of esteem. I can t tell you what a comfort 
Frl. Schi’oeder has been to me. I should like to engage her 
permanently as my secretary.” 

“Oh, Herr Norris, how can you talk such nonsense!” 

“I assure you, Frl. Schroeder, Tm quite in earnest.” 

“You see how he makes fun of a poor old woman, Herr 

She was slightly drunk. When Arthur poured her out a 
second glass of cherry brandy, she upset some of it over her 
dress. When the commotion which followed this accident 
had subsided, he said that he must be going out. 

“Sorry as 1 am to break up this festive gathering . , . duty 
calls. Yes, I shall hope to see you this evening, William. Shall 
we have dinner together? Would that be nice?” 

“Very nice.” 

“Then 111 say au revoir, till eight o’clock.” 

I got up to go and unpack. Frl. Schroeder followed me 
into my room. She insisted on helping me. She was still tipsy 
and kept putting things into the wrong places; shirts into 
the drawer of the writing-table, books in tibe cupboard with 
the socks. She couldn’t stop singing Arthur’s praises. 

“He came as if Heaven had sent him. I’d got into arrears 
with the rent, as I haven’t done since the inflation days. The 
porter s wife came up to see me about it several times. Trl. 
Schroeder,’ she said, we know you and we don’t want to be 


hard on you. But weVe all got to live.’ I declare there were 
evenings when I was so depressed I’d half a mind to put my 
head in the oven. And then Herr Norris arrived. I thought 
he’d just come to pay me a visit, as it were. ‘How much do 
you charge for the front bedroom?’ he asked. You could have 
knocked me over with a feather. ‘Fifty,’ I said. I didn’t dare 
ask more, with the times so bad. I was trembling aU over for 
fear he’d'think it was too much. And what do you think he 
answered? ‘Frl. Schroeder,’ he said, ‘I couldn’t possibly 
dream of letting you have less than sixty. It would be rob- 
bery.’ I tell you, JHerr Bradshaw, I could have kissed his 

Tears stood in Frl. Schroeder s eyes. I was afraid she was 
going to break down. 

“And he pays you regularly?” 

“On the moment, Herr Bradshaw. He couldn’t be more 
punctual if it was you yourself. I’ve never known anybody to 
be so particular. Why, do you know, he won’t even let me 
run up a monthly bill for milk? He settles it by the week. ‘I 
don’t like to feel that I owe anyone a pfennig,’ he says. . . . 
I wish there was more like him.” 

That evening, when I suggested eating at the usual res- 
taurant, Arthur, to my surprise, objected: 

“It’s so noisy there, dear boy. My sensitive nerves revolt 
against the thought of an evening of jazz. As for the cooking, 
it is remarkable, even in this benighted town, for its vileness. 
Let’s go to the Montmartre.” 

“But, my dear Arthur, it’s so terribly expensive.” 

“Never mind. Never mind. In this brief life, one cannot 
always be counting the cost. You’re my guest this evening. 
Let’s forget the cares of this harsh world for a few hours and 
enjoy ourselves.” 

“It’s very kind of you.” 

At the Montmartre, Arthur ordered champagne. 

“This is such a peculiarly auspicious event that I feel we 
may justifiably relax our rigid revolutionary standards.” 


I laughed: “Business seems to be flourishing with you, I 
must say.” 

Arthur squeezed his chin cautiously between finger and 

‘1 can’t complain, William. At the moment. No. But I fear 
I see breakers ahead.” 

“Are you still importing and exporting?” 

“Not exactly that. . . . No. . . . Well, in a sense, per- 

“Have you been in Paris all this time?” 

“More or less. On and off.” 

“What were you doing there?” 

Arthur glanced uneasily round the luxurious little res- 
taurant; smiled with great charm: 

“That’s a very leading question, my dear William.” 

“Were you working for Bayer?” 

“Er — partly. Yes.” A vagueness had come into Arthur’s 
eyes. He was trying to edge away from the subject. 

“And you’ve been seeing him since you got back to Ber- 

“Of course.” He looked at me with sudden suspicion. “Why 
do you ask?” 

“I don’t know. When I saw you last, you didn’t seem very 
pleased with him, that’s all.” 

“Bayer and I are on excellent terms.” Arthur spoke with 
emphasis, paused and added: 

“You haven’t been telling anybody that I’ve quarrelled 
with him, have you?” 

“No, of course not, Arthur. Who do you suppose I’d teU?” 

Arthur was unmistakably relieved. 

“I beg your pardon, William. I might have known that I 
could rely on your admirable discretion. But if, by any 
chance, the story were to get about that Bayer and I were 
not friendly, it might be exceedingly awkward for me, you 

I laughed. 

“No, Arthur. I don’t understand anything.” 


SmiKng, Arthur raised his glass. 

“Have patience with me, William. You know, I always like 
to have my little secrets. No doubt the time will come when 
I shall be able to give you an explanation.” 

“Or to invent one.” 

“Ha ha. Ha ha. You’re as cruel as ever, I see , . . which 
reminds me that I thoughtlessly made an appointment with 
Anni for ten o’clock ... so that perhaps we ought to be 
getting on with our dinner.” 

“Of course. You mustn’t keep her waiting.” 

For the rest of the meal Arthur questioned me about Lon- 
don. The cities of Berlin and Paris were tactfully avoided. 

Arthur had certainly transformed the daily routine of life 
at Frl. Schroeder’s. Because he insisted on a hot bath every 
morning, she had to get up an hour earlier, in order to stoke 
the little old-fashioned boiler. She didn’t complain of this. 
Indeed, she seemed to admire Arthur for the trouble he 
caused her. 

“He’s so particular, Herr Bradshaw. More like a lady than 
a gentleman. Everything in his room has its place, and I get 
into trouble if it isn’t all just as he wants it. I must say, though, 
it’s a pleasure to wait on anybody who takes such care of his 
things. You ought to see some of his shirts, and his ties. A 
perfect dream! And his silk underclothes! ‘Herr Norris,’ I 
said to him once, you should let me wear those; they’re too 
fine for a man.’ I was only joking, of course. Herr Norris 
does enjoy a joke. He takes in four daily papers, you know, 
not to mention the weekly illustrateds, and I’m not allowed 
to throw any of them away. They must all be piled up in 
their proper order, according to the dates, if you please, on 
top of the cupboard. It makes me wild, sometimes, when I 
think of the dust they’re collecting. And then, every day, be- 
fore he goes out, Herr Norris gives me a list as long as your 
arm of messages I’ve got to give to people who ring up or 
call. I have to remember all their names, and which ones he 
wants to see, and which he doesn’t The door-bell’s for ever 


ringing, nowadays, with telegrams for Herr Norris, and ex- 
press letters and air mail and I don t know what else. This 
last fortnight it’s been specially bad. If you ask me, I think 
the ladies are his little weakness.” 

“What makes you say that, Frl. Schroeder?” 

“Well, IVe noticed that Herr Norris is always getting tele- 
grams from Paris, I used to open them, at first, thinking it 
might be something important which Herr Norris would like 
to know at once. But I couldn’t make head or tail of them. 
They were all from a lady named Margot. Very affectionate, 
some of them were, too. 1 am sending you a hug,’ and last 
time you forgot to enclose kisses.’ I must say I should never 
have the nerve to write such things myself; fancy the clerk 
at the post office reading them! These French girls must be 
a shameless lot. From my experience when a woman makes a 
parade of her feelings like tiiat, she’s not worth much. . . • 
And then she wrote such a lot of nonsense, besides.” 

“What sort of nonsense?” 

“Oh, I forget half of it. Stuff about tea-pots and kettles and 
bread and butter and cake.” 

“How very queer.” 

“You’re right, Herr Bradshaw, It is queer. , . , I’ll tell you 
what I think.” Frl. Schroeder lowered her voice and glanced 
towards the door; perhaps she had caught the trick from 
Arthur. “I believe it’s a Idnd of secret language. You know? 
Every word has a double meaning.” 

“A code?”^ 

“Yes, that’s it.” Frl. Schroeder nodded mysteriously. 

“But why should this girl write telegrams to Herr Norris 
in code, do you suppose? It seems so pointless.” 

Frl. Schroeder smiled at my innocence. 

“Ah, Herr Bradshaw, you don’t know everything, although 
you’re so clever and learned. It takes an old woman like me 
to understand little mysteries of that sort. It’s perfectly plain: 
this Margot, as she calls herself (I don’t suppose it’s her real 
name), must be going to have a baby ” 


‘*And you think that Herr Norris . . T 

Frl. Schroeder nodded her head vigorously. 

‘Its as clear as the nose on your face.” 

“Really, I must say, I hardly think . . 

“Oh, it’s all very well for you to laugh, Herr Bradshaw, but 
I’m right, you see if I’m not. After all, Herr Norris is still in 
the prime of life. I’ve known gentlemen have families who 
were old enough to be his father. And, besides, what other 
reason could she have for writing messages like that?” 

“I’m sure I don’t know.” 

“You see?” cried Frl. Schroeder triumphantly. “You don’t 
know. Neither do I.” 

Every morning Frl. Schroeder would come shuffling 
through the flat at express speed, like a little steam-engine, 

“Herr Norris! Herr Norris! Your bath is ready! If you don’t 
come quick the boiler will explode!” 

“Oh dear!” exclaimed Arthur, in English. “Just let me clap 
on my wig.” 

He was afraid to go into the bathroom until the water had 
been turned on and all danger of an explosion was over. Frl. 
Schroeder would rush in heroically, with face averted and, 
muffling her hand in a towel, wrench at the hot tap. If the 
bursting-point was already very near, this would at first emit 
only clouds of steam, while the water in the boiler boiled 
with a noise like thunder. Arthur, standing in the doorway, 
watched Frl. Schroeder’s struggles with a nerv^ous, snarling 
grimace, ready at any moment to bolt for his life. 

After the bath came the barber’s boy, who was sent up 
daily from the hairdresser’s at the comer to shave Arthur 
and to comb his wig. 

“Even in the wilds of Asia,” Arthur once told me, “I have 
never shaved myself when it could possibly be avoided. It’s 
one of those sordid annoying operations which put one in a 
bad humour for the rest of Sie day ” 


When the barber had gone, Arthur would call to me: 

“Come in, dear boy, Tm visible now. Come and talk to me 
while I powder my nose/’ 

Seated before the dressing-table in a delicate mauve wrap, 
Arthur would impart to me the various secrets of his toilet. 
He was astonishingly fastidious. It was a revelation to me to 
discover, after all this time, the complex preparatiops which 
led up to his every appearance in public. I hadr/t dreamed, 
for example, that he spent ten minutes three times a week 
in thinning his eyebrows with a pair of pincers. ( “Thinning, 
William; not plucking. That’s a piece of efFeminacy which 
I abhor.” ) A massage-roller occupied another fifteen minutes 
daily of his valuable time; and then there was a thorough 
manipulation of his cheeks with face cream ( seven or eight 
minutes) and a little judicious powdering (three or four). 
Pedicure, of course, was an extra; but Arthur usually spent 
a few moments rubbing ointment on his toes to avert blisters 
and corns. Nor did he ever neglect a gargle and mouth-wash. 
(“Coming into daily contact, as I do, with members of the 
proletariat, I have to defend myself against positive on- 
slaughts of microbes.”) All this is not to mention the days on 
which he actually made up his face. (“I felt I needed a dash 
of colour this morning; the weather’s so depressing.” ) Or the 
great fortnightly ablution of his hands and wrists with depila- 
tory lotion. (“I prefer not to be reminded of our kinship with 
the larger apes.”) 

After these tedious exertions, it was no wonder that Ar- 
thur had a healthy appetite for his breakfast. He had suc- 
ceeded in coaching Frl. Schroeder as a toast-maker; nor did 
she once, after the first few days, bring him an unduly hard- 
boiled egg. He had home-made marmalade, prepared by an 
English lady who hved in Wihnersdorf and charged nearly 
double the market price. He used his own special coffee-pot, 
which he had brought with him from Paris, and drank a 
special blend of coffee, which had to be sent direct from 
Hamburg. “Little things in themselves,” as Arthur said, 
“which I have come, through long and painful experience, 


to value more than many of the over-advertised and over- 
rated luxuries of life.” 

At half -past ten he went out, and I seldom saw him again 
until the evening, I was busy with my teaching. After lunch, 
he made a habit of coming home and lying down for an hour 
on his bed. “Believe me or not, William, I am able to make 
my mind an absolute blank for whole minutes at a time. It’s 
a matter ""of practice, of course. Without my siesta, I should 
quickly become a nervous wreck.” 

Three nights a week, Frl. Anni came; and Arthur indulged 
in his singular pleasures. The noise was perfectly audible in 
the living-room, where Frl. Schroeder sat sewing. 

“Dear, dear!” she said to me once, “I do hope Herr Norris 
won’t injure himself. He ought to be more careful at his time 
of life.” 

One afternoon, about a week after my arrival, I happened 
to be in the flat alone. Even Frl. Schroeder had gone out. The 
door-bell rang. It was a telegram for Arthur, from Paris. 

The temptation was simply not to be resisted; I didn’t even 
struggle against it. To make things easier for me, the enve- 
lope had not been properly stuck down; it came open in my 

“Am very thirsty,” I read, *Tiope another kettle will boil 
soon kisses are for good boys. — Margot.” 

I fetched a bottle of glue from my room and fixed the 
envelope down carefully. Then I left it on Arthur’s table 
and went out to the cinema. 

At dinner, that evening, Arthur was visibly depressed. In- 
deed, he seemed to have no appetite, and sat staring in front 
of him with a bilious frown. 

“What’s the matter?” I asked. 

“Things in general, dear boy. The state of this wicked 
world. A touch of Weltschmerz, that’s all.” 

“Cheer up. The course of true love never did run smooth, 
you know.” 

But Arthur didn’t react. He didn’t even ask me what I 
meant. Towards the end of our meal, I had to go to the back 


of the restaurant to make a telephone call. As I returned I 
saw that he was absorbed in reading a piece of paper which 
he stuffed hastily into his pocket as I approached. He wasn’t 
quite quick enough. I had recognized the telegram. 


Arthur looked up at me with eyes which were a little too 

“By the way, William,” his tone was carefully casual, “do 
you happen to be doing anything next Thursday evening?” 

“Nothing that I know of.” 

“Excellent. Then may I invite you to a little dinner-party?” 

“That sounds very nice. Who else is coming?” 

“Oh, it’s to be a very small affair. Just ourselves and Baron 
von Pregnitz.” 

Arthur had brought out the name in the most offhand 
manner possible. 

“Kuno!” I exclaimed. 

‘Tou seem very surprised, William, not to say displeased.” 
He was the picture of innocence. “I always thought you and 
he were such good friends?” 

“So did I, until the last time we met. He practically cut me 

“Oh, my dear boy, if you don’t mind my saying so, I think 
that must have been partly your imagination. I’m sure he’d 
never do a thing like that; it doesn’t sound like him at all ” 

^TTou don’t suggest I dreamed it, do you?” 

“I’m not doubting your word for an instant, of course. If 


he was, as you say, a little brusque, I expect he was worried 
by his many duties. As you probably know, he has a post 
under the new administration.” 

T think I did read about it in the newspapers, yes.” 

‘‘And anyhow, even if he did behave a little strangely on 
the occasion you mention, I can assure you that he was acting 
under a misapprehension which has since been removed.” 

I smiled. 

“You needn't make such a mystery out of it, Arthur. I know 
half the story already, so you may as well tell me the other 
half. Your secretary had something to do with it, I think?” 

Arthur wrinkled up his nose with a ridiculously fastidious 

“Don’t call him that, William, please. Just say Schmidt. 
I don’t care to be reminded of the association. Those who are 
foolish enough to keep snakes as pets usually have cause to 
regret it, sooner or later.” 

“All right, then. Schmidt. ... Go on.” 

“I see that, as usual, you’re better informed than I’d sup- 
posed,” Arthur sighed. “Well, weU, if you want to hear the 
whole melancholy truth, you must, painful as it is for me to 
dwell on. As you know, my last weeks at the Courbierestrasse 
were spent in a state of excruciating financial anxiety.” 

“I do indeed.” 

“Well, without going into a lot of sordid details which are 
neither here nor there, I was compelled to try and raise 
money. I cast about in all sorts of likely and unlikely direc- 
tions. And, as a last desperate resort, when the wolf was 
literally scratching at the door, I put my pride in my 
pocket. . . .” 

“And asked Kuno to lend you some?” 

“Thank you, dear boy. With your customary consideration 
for my feelings, you help me over the most painful part of 
the story. ... Yes, I sank so low. I violated one of my most 
sacred principles — never to borrow from a friend. (For I may 
say I did regard him as a friend, a dear friend.) Yes . . 

“And he refused? The stingy brute!” 


‘‘No, William. There you go too fast. You misjudge him. 
I have no reason to suppose that he would have refused. 
Quite the contrary. This was the first time I had ever ap- 
proached him. But Schmidt got to know of my intentions. I 
can only suppose he had been systematically opening all 
my letters. At any rate, he went straight to Pregnitz and ad- 
vised him not to advance me the money; giving aP sorts of 
reasons, most of which were the most monstrous slanders. 
Despite all my long experience of human nature, I should 
hardly have believed such treachery and ingratitude pos- 
sible . . 

“Whatever made him do it?” 

‘^Chiefly, I think, pure spite. As far as one can follow the 
workings of his foul mind. But, undoubtedly, the creature 
was also afraid that, in this case, he would be deprived of 
his pound of flesh. He usually arranged these loans himself, 
you know, and subtracted a percentage before handing over 
the money at all. . . . It humbles me to the earth to have to 
teU you this.” 

“And I suppose he was right? I mean, you weren’t going 
to give him any, this time, were you?” 

“Well, no. .After his villainous behaviour over the sitting- 
room carpet, it was hardly to be expected that I should. You 
remember the carpet?” 

“I should think I did.” 

“The carpet incident was, so to speak, the declaration of 
war between us. Although I still endeavoured to meet his 
demands with the utmost fairness.” 

“And what did Kuno have to say to all this?” 

“He was, naturally, most upset, and indignant. And, I 
must add, rather unnecessarily unkind. He wrote me a most 
unpleasant letter. Quite gentlemanly, of course; he is always 
that. But frigid. Very frigid.” 

‘Tm surprised that he took Schmidts word against 

“No doubt Schmidt had ways and means of convincing 
him. There are some incidents in my career, as you doubt- 


less know, which are very easily capable of misinterpreta- 

“And he brought me into it, as well?” 

“I regret to say that he did. That pains me more than any- 
thing else in the whole aflEair; to think that you should have 
been dragged down into the mud in which I was already 

“Whaf exactly did he tell Kuno about me?” 

“He seems to have suggested, not to put too fine a point 
upon it, that you were an accompHce in my nefarious crimes.” 

“Well Im damned.” 

“I need hardly add that he painted us both as Bolsheviks 
of the deepest crimson.” 

“He flattered me there, I m afraid.” 

“Well — er — ^yes. That s one way of looking at it, of course. 
Unfortunately, revolutionary ardour is no recommendation 
to the Baron's favour. His view of the members of the Left 
Wing is somewhat primitive. He imagines us with pockets 
full of bombs.” 

“And yet, in spite of all this, he s ready to have dinner with 
us next Thursday?” 

“Oh, our relations are very difierent now, Tm glad to say. 
IVe seen him several times since my return to Berlin. Con- 
siderable diplomacy was required, of course; but I think IVe 
more or less convinced him of the absurdity of Schmidt s 
accusation. By a piece of good luck, I was able to be of 
service in a little matter. Pregnitz is essentially a reasonable 
man; he’s always open to conviction.” 

I smiled: “You seem to have put yourself to a good deal of 
trouble on his account. I hope itll prove to have been worth 

“One of my characteristics, William, you may call it a 
weakness if you like, is that I can never bear to lose a friend, 
if it can possibly be avoided.” 

“And you're anxious that I shan’t lose a friend either?” 

“Well, yes, I must say, if I thought I had been the cause, 
even indirectly, of a permanent estrangement between Preg- 


nitz and yourself, it would make me very unhappy. If any 
little doubts or resentments do still exist on either side, I 
sincerely hope that tliis meeting will put an end to them.” 

“There’s no ill feeling as far as I’m concerned.” 

“I’m glad to hear you say that, dear boy. Very glad. It’s so 
stupid to bear grudges. In this life one’s apt to lose a great 
deal through a mistaken sense of pride.” 

“A great deal of money, certainly.” 

“Yes . . , that too.” Arthur pinched his chin and looked 
thoughtful. “Although I was speaking, just then, more from 
the spiritual point of view than the material.” 

His tone implied a gentle rebuke. 

“By the way,” I asked, “what’s Schmidt doing now?” 

“My dear William,” Arthur looked pained, “how in the 
world should I know?” 

“I thought he might have been bothering you.” 

“During my first month in Paris, he wrote me a number of 
letters full of the most preposterous threats and demands for 
money. I simply disregarded them. Since then, I’ve heard 
nothing more.” 

“He’s never turned up at Frl. Schroeder’s?” 

“Thank God, no. Not up to now. It’s one of my nightmares 
that hell somehow discover the address.” 

“I suppose he’s more or less bound to, sooner or later?” 

“Don’t say that, William. Don’t say that, please. ... I 
have enough to worry me as it is. The cup of my afflictions 
would indeed be fuU.” 

As we walked to the restaurant on the evening of the 
dinner-party, Arthur primed me with final instructions. 

“You will be most careful, won’t you, dear boy, not to let 
drop any reference to Bayer or to our political beliefs?” 

“I’m not completely mad.” 

“Of course not, Wilham. Please don’t think I meant any- 
thing offensive. But even the most cautious of us betray our- 
selves at times. . . . Just one other little point: perhaps, at 
this stage of the proceedings, it would be more politic not 


to address Pregnitz by his Christian name. It’s as well to 
preserve one’s distance. That sort of thing’s so easily mis- 

“Don’t you worry. I’ll be as stiff as a poker.” 

“Not s^, dear boy, I do beg. Perfectly easy, perfectly 
natural. A shade formal, perhaps, just at first. Let him make 
the advances. A little polite reserve, that’s all.” 

“If you'go on much longer, you’ll get me into such a state 
that I shan’t be able to open my mouth.” 

We arrived at the restaurant to find Kuno already seated 
at the table Arthur had reserved. The cigarette between his 
fingers was burnt down almost to the end; his face wore an 
expression of well-bred boredom. At the sight of him, Arthur 
positively gasped with horror. 

“My dear Baron, do forgive me, please. I wouldn’t have 
had this happen for the world. Did I say half -past? I did? 
And you’ve been waiting a quarter of an hour? You over- 
whelm me with shame. Really, I don’t know how to apologize 

Arfliur’s fulsomeness seemed to embarrass the Baron as 
much as it did myself. He made a faint, distasteful gesture 
with his fin-like hand and murmured something which I 
couldn’t hear. 

“. . . too stupid of me. I simply can’t conceive how I can 
have been so foolish. . . 

We all sat down, Arthur prattled on and on; his apologies 
developed like an air with variations. He blamed his memory 
and recalled other instances when it had failed him. (“I’m 
reminded of a most unfortunate occasion in Washington on 
which I entirely forgot to attend an important diplomatic 
function at the house of the Spanish Ambassador.”) He 
found fault with his watch; lately, he told us, it had been 
gaining. (“I usually make a point, about this time of year, of 
sending it to the makers in Zurich to be overhauled.”) And 
he assured the Baron, at least five times, that I had no re- 
sponsibility whatever for the mistake. I wished I could sink 
through the floor. Arthur, I could see, was nervous and un- 


sure of himself; the variations wavered uneasily and threat- 
ened, at every moment, to collapse into discords. I had sel- 
dom known him to be so verbose and never so boring. Kuno 
had retired behind his monocle. His face was as discreet as 
the menu, and as unintelligible. 

By the middle of the fish, Arthur had talked himself out. A 
silence followed which was even more uncomfortable than 
his chatter. We sat round the elegant little dinner-table like 
three people absorbed in a difficult chess problem. Artliur 
manipulated his chin and cast furtive, despairing glances in 
my direction, signalling for help. I declined to respond. I 
was sulky and resentful. Fd come here this evening on the 
understanding that Arthur had already more or less patched 
things up with Kuno; that the way was paved to a general 
reconciliation. Nothing of the kind. Kuno was still suspicious 
of Arthur, and no wonder, considering the way he was be- 
having now. I felt his eye questioningly upon me from time 
to time and went on eating, looking neither to right nor to 

“Mr, Bradshaw’s just returned from England.” It was as 
though Arthur had given me a violent push into the middle 
of the stage. His tone implored me to play my part. They 
were both looking at me, now. Kuno was interested but cau- 
tious; Arthur frankly abject. They were so funny in their 
different ways that I had to smile. 

“Yes,” I said, “at the begiiming of the month.” 

“Excuse me, you were in London?” 

“Part of the time, yes.” 

“Indeed?” Kuno s eye fit up with a tender gleam. “And how 
was it there, may I ask?” 

“We had lovely weather in September.” 

“Yes, I see. , , A faint, fishy smile played over his lips; 
he seemed to savour delicious memories. His monocle shone 
with a dreamy light. His distinguished, preserved profile be- 
came pensive and maudlin and sad, 

“I shall always maintain,” put in the incorrigible Arthur, 
“that London in September has a charm all its own. I re- 


member one exceptionally beautiful autumn — ^in nineteen 
hundred and five. I used to stroll down to Waterloo Bridge 
before breakfast and admire St. Pauls. At that time, I had 
a suite at the Savoy Hotel. . . 

Kuno appeared not to have heard him. 

‘"And, excuse me, how are the Horse Guards?” 

“Still sitting there.” 

“Yes? I am glad to hear this, you see. Very glad. . . 

I grinned. Kuno smiled, fishy and subtle. Arthur uttered 
a surprisingly coarse snigger which he instantly checked 
with his hand. Then Kuno threw back his head and laughed 
out loud: “Hoi Ho! Ho!” I had never heard him really laugh 
before. His laugh was a curiosity, an heirloom; somethmg 
handed down from the dinner-tables of the last century; 
aristocratic, manly and sham, scarcely to be heard nowadays 
except on the legitimate stage. He seemed a little ashamed 
of it himself, for, recovering, he added, in a tone of apol- 

‘Tou see, excuse me, I can remember them very well.” 

“Fm reminded,” Arthur leaned forward across the table; 
his tone became spicy, “of a story which used to be told 
about a certain peer of the realm . . . let s call him Lord X. 
I can vouch for it, because I met him once in Cairo, a most 
eccentric man. . . 

There was no doubt about it, the party had been saved. I 
began to breathe more freely. Kuno relaxed by imperceptible 
stages, from polite suspicion to positive jolHty. Arthur, re- 
covering his nerve, was naughty and funny. We drank a good 
deal of brandy and three whole bottles of Pommard. I told an 
extremely stupid story about the two Scotsmen who went 
into a synagogue. Kuno started to nudge me with his foot. 
In an absurdly short space of time I looked at the clock and 
saw it was eleven. 

“Good gracious!” exclaimed Arthur. “If you'll forgive me, 
I must fly. A little engagement . . 

I looked at Arthur questioningly. I had never known him 
to make appointments at this hour of the night; besides, it 


wasn't Anni's evening. Kuno didn't seem at all put out, how- 
ever. He was most gracious. 

“Don't mention it, my dear fellow. . . . We quite under- 
stand." His foot pressed mine under the table. 

“You know," I said, when Arthur had left us, “I really ought 
to be getting home, too." 

“Oh, surely not." 

“I think so,” I said firmly, smiling and moving my foot 
away. He was squeezing a com. 

“You see, I should like so very much to show you my new 
flat. We can be there in the car in ten minutes," 

“I should love to see it; some other time.” 

He smiled faintly. 

“Then may I, perhaps, give you a lift home?'* 

“Thank you very much.” 

The remarkably handsome chauffeur saluted pertly, 
tucked us into the depths of the vast black limousine. As we 
slid forward along the Kurfiirstendamm, Kuno took my hand 
under the fur rug. 

“You're still angry with me," he murmured reproachfully. 

“Why should I be?” 

“Oh yes, excuse me, you are.” 

“Really, I'm not.” 

Kuno gave my hand a limp squeeze. 

“May I ask you something?" 

“Ask away." 

“You see, I don't wish to be personal. Do you believe in 
Platonic friendship?” 

“I expect so,” 1 said, guardedly. 

The answer seemed to satisfy him. His tone became more 
confidential; “You're sure you won't come up and see my flat? 
Not for five minutes?” 

“Not to-night.” 

“Quite sure?" He squeezed. 

“Quite, quite sure." 

“Some other evening?” Anotier squeeze. 


I laughed: T think I should see it better in the daytime, 
shouldn’t ir ^ 

Kuno sighed gently, but did not pursue the subject. A few 
moments later, the limousine stopped outside my door* 
Glancing up at Arthur’s window, I saw that the light was 
burning. I didn’t remark on this to Kuno, however. 

"Well, good night, and thank you for the lift.” 

"Do not mention it, please.” 

I nodded towards the chauffeur: "Shall I tell him to take 
you home?’’ 

"No, thank you,” Kuno spoke rather sadly, but with an at- 
tempt at a smile. "I’m afraid not. Not just yet.” 

He sank back upon the cushions, the smile still frozen on 
his face, his monocle catching a ghostly glassy gleam from 
the street lamp as he was driven away. 

As I entered the flat, Arthur appeared, in shirt-sleeves, at 
his bedroom doorway. He seemed rather perturbed. 

"Back already, William?” 

I grinned: "Aren’t you pleased to see me, Arthur?” 

"Of course, dear boy. What a question! I didn’t expect 
you quite so soon, that’s all.” 

"I Imow you didn’t. Your appointment doesn’t seem to have 
kept you very long, either ” 

"It — er — fell through.” Arthur yawned. He was too sleepy 
even to tell lies. 

I laughed: "You meant well, I know. Don’t worry. We 
parted on the best of terms.” 

He brightened at once: “You did? Oh, I’m so very glad. 
For the moment, I was afraid some little hitch might have 
occurred. Now I can go to sleep with a mind relieved. Once 
again, William, I must thank you for your invaluable sup- 

"Always glad to oblige,” I said. "Good night.” 



The first week in November came and the traflSc strike was 
declared. It was ghastly, sopping weather. Everything out 
of doors was covered with a layer of greasy, fallen dirt. A 
few trams were running, policemen posted fore and aft. Some 
of these were attacked, the windows smashed and the pas- 
sengers forced to get out. The streets were deserted, wet, raw 
and grey. Von Papen s Government was expected to proclaim 
martial law. Berlin seemed profoundly indifferent. Proclama- 
tions, shootings, arrests; they were all nothing new. Helen 
Pratt was putting her money on Schleicher: “He’s the foxiest 
of the lot,” she told me. “Look here. Bill, Til bet you five 
marks he’s in before Christmas. Like to take me on?” I de- 

Hitler’s negotiations with the Right had broken down; the 
Hakenkreuz was even flirting mildly with the Hammer and 
Sickle. Telephone conversations, so Arthur told me, had al- 
ready taken place between the enemy camps. Nazi storm- 
troopers joined with Communists in the crowds which jeered 
at the black-legs and pelted them with stones. Meanwhile, 
on the soaked advertisement pillars, Nazi posters represented 
the K.P.D. as a bogy skeleton in Red Army uniform. In a few 
days there would be another election; our fourth this year. 
Political meetings were well attended; they were cheaper 
than going to the movies or getting drunk. Elderly people 
sat indoors, in the damp, shabby houses, brewing malt coffee 
or weak tea and talking without animation of the Smash. 

On November 7th, the election results were out. The Nazis 
had lost two million votes. The Communists had gained 
eleven seats. They had a majority of over 100,000 in Berlin. 


^You see/" I told Frl. Schroeder, “it"s all your doing/" We had 
persuaded her to go down to the beer-shop at the corner and 
vote, for the first time in her life. And now she was as de- 
lighted as if she"d backed a winner: "Herr Norris! Herr 
Norris! Only think! I did just what you told me; and it’s all 
come out as you said! The porter’s wife’s ever so cross. She’s 
followed the elections for years, and she would have it that 
the NazisVere going to win another million this time. I had 
a good laugh at her, I can tell you. ‘Aha, Frau Schneider!" 
I said to her, T understand somediing about politics, too, you 

During the morning, Arthur and I went round to the Wil- 
helmstrasse, to Bayer’s office, “for a little taste,” as he put it, 
"of the fruits of victory.” Several hundred others seemed 
to have had the same idea. There was such a crowd of people 
coming and going on the stairs that we had difficulty in 
getting into iJie building at all. Everybody was in the best 
of spirits, shouting to each other, greeting, whistling, sing- 
ing. As we struggled upwards, we met Otto on his way down. 
He nearly wrung my hand off in his excitement. 

“Mensch! Willi! Jetzt gehfs lost Just let them talk about 
forbidding the Party now! If they do we’ll fight! The old 
Nazis are done for, that’s certain. In six months, Hitler won’t 
have any storm-troops left!” 

Half a dozen of his friends were with him. They all shook 
my hand with the warmth of long-lost brothers. Meanwhile, 
Otto had flung himself upon Arthur like a young bear. "What, 
Arthur, you old sow, you here too? Isn’t it fine? Isn’t it grand? 
Why, I’m so pleased I could knock you into the middle of 
next week!” 

He dealt Arthur an affectionate hook in the ribs which 
made him squirm. Several of the bystanders laughed sym- 
pathetically. "Good old Arthur!” exclaimed one of Otto’s 
friends loudly. The name was overheard, taken up, passed 
from mouth to mouth. “Arthur . . . who’s Arthur? Why, 
man, don’t you know who Arthur is?” No, they didn’t know. 
Equally, they didn’t care. It was a name, a focus-point for 


the enthusiasm of all these excited young people; it served 
its purpose, “Arthur! Arthur!” was caught up on all sides. 
People were shouting it on the floor above us; in the hallway 
below. “Arthur s here!” “Arthur for ever!” “We want Arthur!” 
The storm of voices had risen in a moment. A mighty cheer, 
exuberant, half -humorous, burst spontaneously from a hun- 
dred throats. Another followed it, and another. The cra2y 
old staircase shook; a tiny flake of plaster was dislodged from 
the ceiling. In this confined space, the reverberation was ter- 
rific; the crowd was excited to find what a noise it could 
make. There was a powerful, convulsive, surging movement 
inwards, towards the unseen object of admiration. A wave 
of admirers elbowed their way up the stairs, to collide with 
another wave, cascading down from above. Everybody 
wanted to touch Arthur. A rain of hand-claps descended 
on his wincing shoulders. An ill-timed attempt to hoist him 
into the air nearly resulted in his being pitched headlong 
over the banisters. His hat had been knocked off. I had 
managed to save it and was fully expecting to have to rescue 
his wig as well. Gasping for breath, Arthur tried, in a mud- 
dled way, to rise to tibe occasion: “Thank you . . he man- 
aged to articulate. “Most kind . . . really don’t deserve . . . 
good gracious! Oh dear!” 

He might have been quite seriously injured, had not Otto 
and his friends forced a way for him to the top of the stair- 
case. We scrambled in the wake of their powerful, barging 
bodies. Arthur clutched my arm, half scared, half shyly 
pleased. “Fancy their knowing me, William,” he panted into 
my ear. 

But the crowd hadn’t done with him yet. Now that we had 
reached the oflSce door, we occupied a position of vantage 
and could be seen by the mass of struggling people wedged 
in the staircase below. At the sight of Arthur, another terrific 
cheer shook the building. “Speech!” yelled somebody. And 
the cry was echoed: “Speech! Speech! Speech!” Those on 
the stairs began a rhythmical stamping and shouting; the 
heavy tread of their boots was as formidable as the stroke of 


a giant piston. If Arthur didn’t do something to stop it, it 
seemed probable that the entire staircase would collapse. 

At this critical moment, the door of the oflBce opened. It 
was Bayer himself, come out to see what all the noise was 
about. His smiling eyes took in the scene with the amusement 
of a tolerant school-master. The uproar did not disconcert 
him in the least; he was used to it. Smiling, he shook hands 
with the scared and embarrassed Arthur, laying a reassuring 
hand upon his shoulder. “Ludwig!” roared the onlookers. 
“Ludwig! Arthur! Speech!” Bayer laughed at them and made 
a good-humoured gesture of salute and dismissal. Then he 
turned, escorting Arthur and myself into the office. The 
noise outside gradually subsided into singing and shouted 
jokes. In the outer office the typists were doing their best to 
carry on work amidst groups of eagerly arguing men and 
women. The walls were plastered with news-sheets display- 
ing the election results. We elbowed our way into Bayers 
little room. Arthur sank at once into a chair and began fan- 
ning himself with his recovered hat. 

“Well, well . . . dear me! I feel quite carried away, as it 
were, in the whirl of history; distinctly battered. This is 
indeed a red-letter day for the Cause.” 

Bayer s eyes regarded him with vivid, faintly amused in- 

“It surprises you, eh?” 

“Well — er — I must admit that hardly, in my most sanguine 
dreams, had I dared to expect such a very decisive — er — 

Bayer nodded encouragingly. 

“It is good, yes. But it will be unwise, I think, to exaggerate 
the importances of this success. Many factors have con- 
tributed to it. It is, how do you call, symptomic?” 

“Symptomatic,” Arthur corrected, with a little cough. His 
blue eyes shifted uneasily over the litter of papers on Bayer s 
writing-table. Bayer gave him a brilliant smile. 

“Ah, yes. Symptomatic. It is symptomatic of the phase 
through which we are at present passing. We are not yet 


ready to cross the Wilhelmstrasse.” He made a humorous 
gesture of his hand, indicating, through the window, the di- 
rection of the Foreign OflBce and Hindenburg’s residence, 
“No. Not quite yet.” 

“Do you think,” I asked, “that this means the Nazis are 
done for?” 

He shook his head with decision. “Unfortunately, no. We 
may not be so optimistic. This reverse is for them” of a tem- 
porary character only. You see, Mr. Bradshaw, the economic 
situation is in their favour. We shall hear much more of our 
friends, I think.” 

“Oh, please don't say anything so unpleasant,” murmured 
Arthur, fidgeting with his hat. His eyes continued furtively 
to explore the writing-table. Bayei's glance followed them. 

“You do not like the Nazis, eh, Norris?” 

His tone was rich with amusement. He appeared to find 
Arthur extremely funny at this precise moment. I was at a loss 
to understand why. Moving over to the table, he began, as if 
abstractedly, ‘‘O handle the papers which lay there. 

“Really!” protested Arthur, in shocked tones. “How can 
you ask? Naturally, I dislike them. Odious creatures. . . .” 

“Ah, but you should not!” With great deliberation, Bayer 
took a key from his pocket, unlocked a drawer in the writing- 
table, and drew from it a heavy sealed packet. His red -brown 
eyes sparkled teasingly. “This outlook is quite false. The 
Nazi of to-day can be the communist of to-morrow. When 
they have seen where their leaders’ programme has brought 
them, they may not be so very diflBcult to convince. I wish 
all opposition could be thus overcome. There are others, 
you see, who will not listen to such arguments.” 

Smiling, he turned the packet in his hands. Arthur s eyes 
were fastened upon it, as if in unwilling fascination; Bayer 
seemed to be amusing himself by exerting his hypnotic 
powers. At all events, Arthur was plainly most uncom- 

“Er — ^yes. Well . . . you may be right. . . .” 

There was a curious silence. Bayer was smiling to himself, 


subtly, with the comers of his lips. I had never seen him in 
this mood before. Suddenly, he appeared to become aware 
of what he was holding. 

“Why, of course, my dear Norris . . . These are the docu- 
ments I had promised to show you. Can you be so kind as 
to let me have them to-morrow again? We have to forward 
them, you know, as quickly as possible.” 

“Certainly. Of course. . . Arthur had fairly jumped out 
of his seat to receive the packet. He was like a dog which 
has been put on trust for a lump of sugar. “Til take the great- 
est care of them, I assure you.” 

Bayer smiled, but said notliing. 

Some minutes later, he escorted us affably out of the 
premises by tlie back staircase which led down into the court- 
yard. Arthur thus avoided another encounter with his ad- 

As we walked away along the street, he seemed thoughtful 
and vaguely unhappy. Twice he sighed. 

“Feeling tired?” I asked. 

“Not tired, dear boy. No ... I was merely indulging in 
my favourite vice of philosophizing. When you get to my 
age you'll see more and more clearly how very strange and 
complex life is. Take this morning, for instance. The simple 
enthusiasm of all those young people; it touched me very 
deeply. On such occasions, one feels oneself so unworthy. 
1 suppose there are individuals who do not suffer from a con- 
science. But I am not one of them.” 

The strangest thing about this odd outburst was that Ar- 
thur obviously meant what he said. It was a genuine frag- 
ment of a confession, but I could make nothing of it. 

“Yes,” I encouraged experimentally, “I sometimes feel like 
that myself.” 

Arthur didn't respond. He merely sighed for the third time. 
A sudden shadow of anxiety passed over his face; hastily he 
fingered the bulge in his pocket made by the papers which 
Bayer had given him. They were stiH there. He breathed 


November passed without much event. I had more pupils 
again, and was busy. Bayer gave me two long manuscripts to 

There were rumours that the K.P.D. would be forbidden; 
soon, in a few weeks. Otto was scornful. The Government 
would never dare, he said. The Party would fight. All the 
members of his cell had revolvers. They hung them, he told 
me, by strings from the bars of a cellar-grating in their Lokal, 
so that the police shouldn’t find them. The police were very 
active these days. Berlin, we heard, was to be cleaned up. 
Plain-clothes men had paid several unexpected calls on Olga, 
but had failed, so far, to find anything. She was being very 

We dined with Kuno several times and had tea at his flat. 
He was sentimental and preoccupied by turns. The intrigues 
which were going on within the Cabinet probably caused 
him a good deal of worry And he regretted the freedom of 
his earlier bohemian existence. His public responsibilities 
debarred him from the society of the young men I had met 
at his Mecklenburg villa. Only their photographs remained 
to console him now, bound in a sumptuous album which he 
kept locked away in an obscure cupboard. Kuno showed it 
to me one day when we were alone. 

“Sometimes, in the evenings, I like to look at them, you 
see? And then I make up a story to myself that we are all 
living on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean. Excuse me, 
you don’t think this very silly, I hope?” 

“Not at all,” I assured him. 

“You see, I knew you’d understand.” Encouraged, he pro- 
ceeded shyly to further confessions. The desert island fantasy 
was nothing new. He had been cherishing it for months al- 
ready; it had developed gradually into a private cult. Under 
its imuence he had acquired a small library of stories for 
boys, most of them in English, which dealt with this par- 
ticular kind of adventure. He had told his bookseller that he 
wanted them for a nephew in London. Kuno had found most 


of the books subtly unsatisfactory. There had been grown-ups 
in them, or buried treasures, or marvellous scientiSc inven- 
tions. He had no use for any of these. Only one stoiy had 
really pleased him. It was called The Seven Who Got Lost. 

‘'This is the work of genius, I find.” Kuno was quite in 
earnest. His eyes gleamed with enthusiasm. ‘1 should be so 
very happy if you would care to read it, you see?” 

I took the book home. It was certainly not at all bad of 
its kind. Seven boys, of ages ranging from sixteen to nine- 
teen, are washed ashore on an uninhabited island, where 
there is water and plenty of vegetation. They have no food 
with them and no tools but a broken penknife. The book was 
a matter-of-fact account, cribbed largely from the Swiss 
Family Robinson, of how they hunted, fished, built a hut and 
finally got themselves rescued. I read it at a sitting and 
brought it back to Kuno next day. He was delighted when I 
praised it. 

“You remember Jack?” 

“The one who was so good at fishing? Yes.” 

“Now tell me, please, is he not Hke Gunther?” 

I had no idea who Gunther was, but rightly guessed hin) to 
have been one of the Mecklenburg house-party. 

“Yes, he is, rather.” 

“Oh, I am so glad you find this, too. And Tony?” 

“The one who was such a marvellous climber?” 

Kuno nodded eagerly: “Doesn’t he remind you of Heinz?” 

“I see what you mean.” 

In this way we worked through the other characters, 
Teddy, Bob, Rex, Dick: Kuno supplied a counterpart to 
each. I congratulated myself on having really read the book 
and being thus able to pass this curious examination with 
credit. Last of all came Jimmy, the hero, the champion swim- 
mer, the boy who always led the others in an emergency and 
had a brainwave to solve every diflSculfy. 

“You didn’t recognize him, perhaps?’ 

Kuno’s tone was oddly, ludicrously coy. I saw that I must 


beware of giving the wrong answer. But what on earth was I 
to say? 

‘1 did have some idea . . I ventured. 

“You did?” He was actually blushing. 

I nodded, smiling, trying to look intelligent, waiting for a 

“He is myself, you see.” Kuno had the simplicity of com- 
plete conviction. “When I was a boy. But exactly . . . This 
writer is a genius. He tells things about me which nobody 
else can know. I am Jimmy. Jimmy is myself. It is marvel- 

“It’s certainly very strange,” I agreed. 

After this, we had several talks about the island. Kuno 
told me exactly how he pictured it, and dwelt in detail upon 
the appearance and characteristics of his various imaginary 
companions. He certainly had a most vivid imagination. I 
wished that the author of The Seven Who Got Lost could 
have been there to hear him. He would have been startled 
to behold the exotic fruit of his unambitious labours. I 
gathered that I was Kuno’s only confidant on the subject. I 
felt as embarrassed as some unfortunate person who has 
been forcibly made a member of a secret society. If Arthur 
was with us, Kuno showed only too plainly his desire to get 
rid of him and be alone with me. Arthur noticed this, of 
course, and irritated me by putting the obvious construction 
on our private interviews. All the same, I hadn’t the heart 
to give Kuno’s poor Httle mystery away. 

“Look here,” I said to him once, “why don’t you do it?” 


“Why don’t you clear out to the Pacific and find an island 
like the one in the book, and reaUy live there? Other people 
have done it. There’s absolutely no reason why you 

Kuno shook his head sadly. 

“Excuse me, no. It’s impossible.” 

His tone was so final and so sad that I was silent. Nor did 
I ever make such a suggestion to him again. 


As the month advanced, Arthur became increasingly de- 
pressed. I soon noticed that he had less money than formerly. 
Not that he complained. Indeed, he had become most secre- 
tive about his troubles. He made his economies as unob- 
trusively as possible, giving up taxis on the ground that a 
bus was just as quick, avoiding the expensive restaurants 
because, as he said, rich food disagreed with his digestion. 
Annfs visits were less frequent also. Arthur had taken to 
going to bed early. During the day, he was out more than 
ever. He spent a good deal of his time, I discovered, in Bayer s 

It wasn’t long before another telegram arrived from Paris. 
I had no diflBculty in persuading Frl. Schroeder, whose curi- 
osity was as shameless as my own, to steam open the enve- 
lope before Arthur s return for his afternoon nap. With heads 
pressed close together, we read: 

Tea you sent no good at all cannot understand why 

beheve you have another girl no kisses. 


‘Tou see,” exclaimed Frl. Schroeder, in delighted horror, 
"she’s been trying to stop it.” 

"What on earth . . 

"Why, Herr Bradshaw,” in her impatience she gave my 
hand a little slap, "how can you be so dense! The baby, of 
course. He must have sent her some stuff. . . . Oh, these 
men! If he’d only come to me, I could have told him what 
to do. It never fails.” 

“For Heaven’s sake, Frl Schroeder, don’t say anything 
about this to Herr Norris.” 

"Oh, Herr Bradshaw, you can trust me!” 

I think, aU the same, that her maimer must have given 
Arthur some hint of what we had done. For, after this, the 
French telegrams ceased to arrive. Arthur, I supposed, had 
prudently arranged to have them delivered to some other 


And then one evening early in December, when Arthur 
was out and Frl. Schroeder was having a bath, the door-bell 
rang. I answered it myself. There, on the threshold, stood 

"Good evening, Mr. Bradshaw.” 

He looked shabby and unkempt. His great, greasy moon- 
face was unwholesomely white. At first I thought he must be 

"What do you want?” I asked. 

Schmidt grinned unpleasantly. “I want to see Norris.” He 
must have read what was in my mind, for he added: “You 
needn t bother to tell me any hes, because I know he s hving 
here, now, see?” 

“Well, you can t see him now. He’s gone out.” 

"Are you sure he’s out?” Schmidt regarded me smiling, 
through half-closed eyes. 

"Perfectly. Otherwise I shouldn’t have told you so.” 

“So ... I see.” 

We stood looking at each other for some moments, smiling 
with dislike. I was tempted to slam the door in his face. 

"Mr. Norris would do better to see me,” said Schmidt, after 
a pause, in an offhand, casual tone, as though this were his 
first mention of the subject. I put the side of my foot as un- 
ostentatiously as possible against the door, in case he should 
suddenly turn rough. 

"I think,” I said gently, "that that’s a matter for Mr. Norris 
himself to judge.” 

"Won’t you tell him I’m here?” Schmidt glanced down at 
my foot and impudently grinned. Our voices were so mild 
and low-pitched that anybody passing up the staircase would 
have supposed us to be two neighbours, engaged in a friendly 

"I’ve told you once already that Mr. Norris isn't at home. 
Don’t you understand German?” 

Schmidt’s smile was extraordinarily insulting. His half- 
closed eyes regarded me with a certain amusement, a 


qualified disapproval, as though I were a picture badly out 
of drawing. He spoke slowly, with elaborate patience. 

‘‘Perhaps it wouldn’t be troubling you too much to give 
Mr. Norris a message from me?” 

“Yes. ril do that.” 

“Will you be so kind as to tell Mr. Norris that 111 wait an- 
other three days, but no longer? You understand? At the end 
of this week, if I haven’t heard from him, I shall do what I 
said in my letter. He’ll know what I mean. He thinks I daren’t, 
perhaps. Well, he’ll soon find out what a mistake he’s made. 
I don’t want trouble, unless he asks for it. But I’ve got to live 
. . . I’ve got to look after myself the same as he has. I mean 
to have my rights. He needn’t think he can keep me down in 
the gutter. . . .” 

He was actually trembling all over. Some violent emotion, 
rage or extreme weakness, was shaking his body like a leaf. 
I thought for a moment that he would fall. 

“Are you ill?” I asked. 

My question had an extraordinary effect on Schmidt. His 
oily, smiling sneer stiffened into a tense mask of hatred. He 
had utterly lost control of himself. Coming a step nearer to 
me, he literally shouted in my face: 

“It isn’t any business of yours, do you hear? Just you tell 
Norris what I said. If he doesn’t do what I want, I’ll make 
him sorry for the day he was bom! And you too, you swine!” 

His hysterical fury infected me suddenly. Stepping back, 
I flung the door to with a violent slam, hoping to catch his 
thrust-forward, screaming face on the point of the jaw. But 
there was no impact. His voice stopped like a gramophone 
from which the needle is lifted. Nor did he utter another 
sound. As I stood there behind the closed door, my heart 
pounding with anger, I heard his light footsteps cross the 
landing and begin to descend the stairs. 



An hour later, Arthur returned home, I followed him into 
his room to break the news. 

“Schmidt s been here.’* 

If Arthur’s wig had been suddenly jerked from his head by 
a fisherman, he could hardly have looked more startled. 

“William, please tell me the worst at once. Don’t keep me 
in suspense. What time was this? Did you see him yourself? 
What did he say?” 

“He’s trying to blackmail you, isn’t he?” 

Arthur looked at me quickly. 

“Did he admit that?” 

“He as good as told me. He says he’s written to you already, 
and that if you don’t do what he wants by the end of the 
week there’ll be trouble.” 

“He actually said that? Oh dear. . , ” 

“You should have told me he’d written,” I said reproach- 

“I know, dear boy, I know. . . .” Arthur was the picture 
of distress, “It’s been on the tip of my tongue several times 
this last fortnight. But I didn’t want to worry you unneces- 
sarily. I kept hoping that, somehow, it might all blow over.” 

“Now, look here, Arthxu*; the point is this: does Schmidt 
really know anything about you which can do you harm?” 

He had been nervously pacing the room, and now sank, a 
disconsolate shirt-sleeved figure, into a chair, forlornly re- 
garding his button-boots. 

“Yes, William.” His voice was small and apologetic. “I’m 
afraid he does.” 

‘What sort of things does he know?” 


“Really, I ... I don’t think, even for you, that I can go 
into the details of my hideous past.” 

“I don’t want details. What I want to know is, could 
Schmidt get you involved in any land of criminal charge?” 

Arthur considered this for some moments, thoughtfully 
rubbing his chin. 

“I don’t think he dare try it. No.” 

“I’m not so sure,” I said. “He seemed to me to be in a 
pretty bad way. Desperate enough for anytliing. He looked 
as though he wasn’t getting much to eat.” 

Arthur stood up again and began walking about the room, 
rapidly, with small anxious steps. 

“Let’s keep quite calm, William. Let’s think this out to- 
gether quietly.” 

“Do you think, from your experience of Schmidt, that he’d 
keep quiet if you paid him a lump sum down to leave you 

Arthur did not hesitate: 

“I’m quite sure he wouldn’t. It would merely whet his 
appetite for my blood. ... Oh dear, oh dear!” 

“Suppose you left Germany altogether? Would he be able 
to get at you then?” 

Arthur stopped short in the middle of a gesture of extreme 

“No, I suppose . . . that is, no, quite definitely not.” He 
regarded me with dismay. “You aren’t suggesting I should 
do that, I hope?” 

“It seems drastic. But what’s the alternative?” 

“I see none. Certainly.” 

“Neither do 1.” 

Arthur moved his shoulders in a shrug of despair. 

“Yes, yes, my dear boy. It’s easy enough to say that. But 
where’s the money coming from?” 

“I thought you were pretty well oS now?” I pretended mild 
surprise. Artliur’s glance slid away, evasively, from beneath 
my own. 

“Only under certain conditions.” 


“You mean, you can only earn money here?” 

“Well, chiefly . . He didn’t like this catechism, and be- 
gan to fidget. I could no longer resist trying a shot in the 

“But you get paid from Paris?” 

I had scored a bull. Arthur s dishonest blue eyes showed 
a startled flicker, but no more. Perhaps he wasn’t altogether 
unprepared for the question. 

“My dear William, I haven’t the least idea what you’re 
talking about.” 

I grinned. 

“Never mind, Arthur. It’s no business of mine. I only want 
to help you, if I can.” 

“It’s most kind of you, dear boy. I’m sure.” Arthur sighed. 
“This is all most diificult; most complicated. . . 

“Well, we’ve got one point clear, at any rate. . . . Now, 
the best thing you can do is to send Schmidt some money at 
once, to keep him quiet. How much did he ask for?” 

“A hundred down,” said Arthur in a subdued voice, “and 
then fifty a week.” 

“I must say he’s got a nerve. Could you manage a hundred 
and fifty, do you think?” 

“At a pinch, I suppose, yes. It goes against the grain.” 

“I know. But this’ll save you ten times as much in the end. 
Now what I suggest is, you send him the hundred and fifty, 
with a letter promising him the balance on the first of Jan- 
uary. . , .” 

“Really, William . . 

"Wait a minute. And meanwhile, you’ll arrange to be out 
of Germany before the end of December. That gives you 
three weeli’ grace. If you pay up meekly now, he won’t 
bother you agaiu tiU then. He’U think he’s got you in his 

“Yes. I suppose you’re right. I shall have to accustom my- 
self to the idea. AH this is so sudden.” Arthur had a mo- 
mentary flare-up of resentment. “That odious serpent! If 


ever I find an opportunity of dealing with him once for 
all . . 

“Don’t you worry. He’ll come to a sticky end sooner or 
later. The chief problem, at present, is to raise this money 
for your journey. I suppose there isn’t anybody you could 
borrow it from?” 

But Arthur was already following another train of thought. 

“I shall find a way out of this somehow.” His tone was con- 
siderably brighter. “Just let me have time to think.” 

While Arthur was thinking, a week went by. The weather 
didn’t improve. These dismal short days affected all our 
spirits. Frl. Schroeder complained of pains in the back. Ar- 
thur had a touch of liver. My pupils were unpunctual and 
stupid. I was depressed and cross. I began to hate our dingy 
flat, the shabby, staring house-front opposite my window, the 
damp street, the stu^, noisy restaurant where we ate an 
economical supper, the burnt meat, the eternal sauerkraut, 
the soup. 

“My GodI” I exclaimed one evening to Arthur, “what 
wouldn’t I give to get out of this hole of a town for a day or 

Arthur, who had been picking his teeth in melancholy 
abstraction, looked at me thoughtfully. Rather to my surprise 
he seemed prepared to take a sympathetic interest in my 

“I must say, William, I’d noticed myself that you weren’t 
in your accustomed sprightly vein. You’re looking distinctly 
pale, you know.” 

“Am ir 

“I fear you’ve been overworking yourself lately. You don’t 
get out of doors enough. A young man like you needs exercise 
and fresh air.” 

I smiled, amused and slightly mystified. 

“You know, Arthur, you’re getting quite the bedside man- 
ner ” 

“My dear boy” — ^he pretended to be mildly hurt— “I’m 


sorry that you mock my genuine concern for your health. 
After all, I m old enough to be your father. I think I may be 
excused for sometimes feeling myself in loco parentis!* 

‘1 beg your pardon, Daddy.” 

Arthur smiled, but with a certain exasperation. I wasn’t 
giving the right answers. He couldn’t find an opening for 
the topic, whatever it was, which he was thus obscurely try- 
ing to broach. After a moment’s hesitation, he tried again. 

‘'Tell me, William, have you ever, in the course of your 
travels, visited Switzerland?” 

“For my sins. I once spent three months trying to learn 
French at a pension in Geneva.” 

“Ah yes, I believe you told me.” Arthur coughed uneasily. 
“But I was thinking more of the winter sports.” 

“No. I’ve been spared those.” 

Arthur appeared positively shocked. 

“Really, my dear boy, if you don’t mind my saying so, I 
think you carry your disdain of athleticism too far, I do in- 
deed. Far be it from me to disparage the things of the mind. 
But, remember, you’re still young. I hate to see you depriving 
yourself of pleasures which you won’t, in any case, be able 
to indulge in later. Be quite frank; isn’t it aU rather a pose?” 

I grinned. 

“May I ask, with all due respect, what branch of sport you 
indulged in yourself at the age of twenty-eight?” 

“Well — er — as you know, I have always suffered from 
delicate health. Our cases are not at all the same. Neverthe- 
less, I may tell you that, during one of my visits to Scotland, 
I became quite an ardent fisherman. In fact, I frequently 
succeeded in catching those small fish with pretty red and 
brown markings. Their name escapes me for the moment.” 

I laughed and lit a cigarette. 

“And now, Arthur, having given such an admirable per- 
formance as the fond parent, suppose you tell me what you’re 
driving at?” 

He sighed, with resignation, with exasperation; partly, 
perhaps, with relief. He was excused from further sham- 


ming. When he spoke again, it was with a complete change 
of tone. 

“After all, William, I don't know why I should beat about 
the bush. WeVe known each other long enough now. How 
long is it, by the way, since we first met?” 

“More than two years.” 

“Is it? Is it indeed? Let me see. Yes, you're right. As I was 
saying, we've known each other long enough now for me to 
be able to appreciate the fact that, although young in years, 
you're already a man of the world. . . 

“You put it charmingly.” 

“I assure you, I'm qxiite serious. Now, what I have to say 
is simply this (and please don't regard it as anything but 
the very vaguest possibihty, because, quite apart from the 
question of your consent, a very vital question, I know, the 
whole thing would have to be approved by a third party, who 
doesn't, at present, know anything about the scheme) . . .” 

Arthur paused, at the end of this parenthesis, to draw 
breath, and to overcome his constitutional dislike of laying 
his cards on the table. 

“What I now merely ask you is this: would you, or would 
you not, be prepared to spend a few days in Switzerland 
this Christmas, at one or other of the winter sport resorts?” 

Having got it out at last, he was covered in confusion, 
avoided my eye and began fiddling nerv^ously with the cruet- 
stand. The neural effort required to make this offer appeared 
to have been considerable. I stared at him for a moment; 
then burst out laughing in my amazement. 

“Well, I'm damned! So that was what you were after, all 
the time!” 

Arthur joined, rather shyly, in my mirth. He was watching 
my face, shrewdly and covertly, in its various phases of 
astonishment. At what he evidently considered to be the 
psychological moment, he added: 

“All expenses would be paid, of course.” 

“But what on earth ...” I began. 

“Never mind, William. Never mind. It's just an idea of 


mine, that’s all. It mayn’t, it very likely won’t, come to any- 
thing. Please don’t ask me any more now. All I want to 
know is: would you be prepared to contemplate such a thing 
at all, or is it out of the question?” 

"Nothing’s out of the question, of course. But there are 
all sorts of things I should want to know. For instance . . .” 

Arthur held up a delicate white hand. 

"Not now, William, I beg.” 

"Just this: What should I . . 

"I can’t discuss anything now,” interrupted Arthur, firmly. 
"I simply must not.” 

And, as if afraid that he would nevertheless be tempted to 
do so, he called to the waiter for our bills. 

The best part of another week passed without Arthur 
having made any further allusion to the mysterious Swiss 
project. With considerable self-control, I refrained from re- 
minding him of it; perhaps, like so many of his other brilliant 
schemes, it was already forgotten. And there were more im- 
portant things to be thought of. Christmas was upon us, the 
year would soon be over; yet he hadn’t, so far as I knew, the 
ghost of a prospect of raising the money for his escape. When 
I asked him about it, he was vague. When I urged him to 
take steps, evasive. He seemed to be getting into a dangerous 
state of inertia. Evidently he underrated Schmidt’s vindic- 
tiveness and power to harm. I did not. I couldn’t so easily 
forget my last unpleasant glimpse of the secretary’s face. Ar- 
thur’s indifference drove me sometimes nearly frantic. 

"Don’t worry, dear boy,” he would murmur vaguely, with 
abstracted, butterfly fingerings of his superb wig. "Sufficient 
unto tlie day, you know . . . Yes.” 

"A day will come,” I retorted, "when it’ll be sufficient unto 
two or three years’ hard.” 

Next morning, something happened to confirm my fears. 

I was sitting in Arthur’s room, assisting, as usual, at the 
ceremonies of the toilet, when the telephone bell rang. 

"Will you be kind enough to see who it is, dear boy?” said 


Arthur, powder-puff in hand. He never personally answered 
a call if it could be avoided. I picked up the receiver. 

“It’s Schmidt,” I announced, a moment later, not without 
a certain gloomy satisfaction, covering the mouthpiece with 
my hand. 

“Oh dear!” Arthur could hardly have been more flustered 
if his persecutor had actually been standing outside the 
bedroom door. Indeed, his harassed glance literally swept 
for an instant under the bed, as though measuring the avail- 
able space for hiding there: 

“Tell him anything. Say I’m not at home. . , 

“I think,” I said firmly, “that it’d be much better if you 
were to speak to him yourself. After all, he can’t bite you. 
He may give you some idea of what he means to do.” 

“Oh, very well, if you insist. . . Arthur was quite petu- 
lant. “I must say, I should have thought it was very unneces- 

Gingerly, holding the powder-puff like a defensive weapon, 
he advanced to the instrument. 

“Yes. Yes.” The dimple in his chin jerked sideways. He 
snarled like a nervous Hon. “No ... no, really. . . . But do 

please Hsten one moment ... I can’t, I assure you ... I 
^ > 1 . » 

cant. . . . 

His voice trailed off into a protesting, imploring whisper. 
He wobbled the hook of the receiver in futile distress. 

“WiUiam, he’s rung off.” 

Arthur’s dismay was so comic that I had to smile. 

“What did he tell you?” 

Arthur crossed the room and sat down heavily on the bed. 
He seemed quite exhausted. The powder-pxiff fell to the 
floor from between his limp fingers. 

“I’m reminded of the deaf adder, who heareth not the voice 
of the charmer . . . What a monster, William! May your 
life never be burdened by such a fiend. . . ” 

“Do tell me what he said.” 

“He confined himself to threats, dear boy. Mostly inco- 
herent, He wanted merely to remind me of his existence, I 


think. And that hell need some more money soon. It was 
very cruel of you to make me speak to him. Now I shall be 
upset for the rest of the day. Just feel my hand; it"s shaking 
like a leaf.” 

‘‘But, Arthur.” I picked up the powder-puflE and put it on 
the dressing-table. “It s no good just being upset. This must 
be a warning to you. You see, he really does mean business. 
We must do something about it. Haven't you any plan? Are 
there no steps you can take?” 

Arthur roused himself with an effort. 

“Yes, yes. Youre right, of course. The die is cast. Steps 
shall be taken. In fact, not a moment shall be lost. I wonder 
if you'd be so good as to get me the Fernamt on the telephone 
and say I wish to put tlirough a call to Paris? I don't think 
it's too early? No. . . .” 

I asked for the number Arthur gave me and tactfully left 
him alone. I didn't see him again until the evening, when, 
as usual, we met by appointment at the restaurant for our 
supper. I noticed at once that he was brighter. He even in- 
sisted that we should drink wine, and when I demurred 
offered to pay my share of the bottle. 

“It’s so strengthening,” he added persuasively. 

I grinned. “Still worried about my health?” 

“You're very unkind,” said Arthur, smiling. But he refused 
to be drawn. When, a minute or two later, I asked pointblank 
how things were going, he replied: 

“Let's have supper first, dear boy. Be patient with me, 

But even when supper was over and we had both ordered 
coffee (an additional extravagance), Arthur seemed in no 
hurry to give me his news. Instead, he appeared anxious to 
know what I had been doing, which pupils I had had, where 
I had lunched, and so forth. 

“You haven't seen our friend Pregnitz lately, I think?” 

“As a matter of fact. I'm going to tea with him to-morrow.” 

“Are you, indeed?” 

I restrained a smile. I was familiar enough by this time 


with Arthur s methods of approach. That new intonation in 
his voice, though suavely concealed, hadn’t escaped me. So 
we were coming to the point at last. 

“May I give him any message?” 

Arthur s face was a comical study. We regarded each other 
with the amusement of two people who, night after night, 
cheat each other at a card game which is not played for 
money. Simultaneously we began to laugh. 

“What, exactly,” I asked, “do you want to get out of him?” 

“Williarn, please . . . you put things so very crudely.” 

“It saves time.” 

“Yes, yes. You’re right. Time is, alas, important just now. 
Very well, let’s put it that I’m anxious to do a little business 
with him. Or shall we say to put him in the way of doing it 
for himself?” 

“How very kind of youl” 

Arthur tittered. “I am kind, aren’t I, William? That’s wliat 
so few people seem to realize.” 

“And what is this business? When is it coming off?” 

“That remains to be seen, I hope.” 

“I suppose you get a percentage?” 


“A big percentage?” 

“If it succeeds. Yes.” 

“Enough for you to be able to leave Germany?” 

“Oh, more than enough. Quite a nice little nest-egg, in 

“Then that’s splendid, isn’t it?” 

Arthur snarled nervously, regarded his finger-nails with 
extreme care. 

“Unfortunately, there are certain technical difficulties. I 
need, as so often, your valuable advice.” 

“Very well, let’s hear them.” 

Arthur considered for some moments. I could see that he 
was wondering how much he need tell me. 

“Chiefly,” he said at length, “that this business cannot be 
transacted in Germany ” 


“Why not?*’ 

“Because it would involve too much publicity. The other 
party to the deal is a well-known business man. As you 
probably know, big-business circles are comparatively small. 
They all w^atch each other. News gets round in a moment; 
the least hint is enough. If this man were to come to Ber- 
lin, the business people here would know about it before he’d 
even arrived. And secrecy is absolutely essential.” 

“It all sounds very tihirilling. But I’d no idea that Kuno 
was in business at all.” 

“Strictly speaking, he isn’t.” Arthur took some trouble to 
avoid my eye. “This is merely a side-line.” 

“I see. And where do you propose that this meeting shall 
take place?” 

Arthur carefully selected a tooth-pick from the Httle bowl 
in front of him. 

“That, my dear William, is where I hope to have the benefit 
of your valuable advice. It must be somewhere, of course, 
widiin easy reach of the German frontier. Somewhere where 
people can go, at this time of the year, without attracting 
attention, on a holiday.” 

With great deliberation, Arthur broke the tooth-pick into 
two pieces and laid them side by side on the table-cloth. 
Without looking up at me, he added: 

“Subject to your approval. I’d rather thought of Switzer- 

There was quite a long pause. We were both smiHng. 

“So that’s it?” I said at last. 

Arthur redivided the tooth-pick into quarters; raised his 
eyes to mine in a glance of dishonest, smiling innocence, 

“That, as you rightly observe, dear boy, is it.” 

“Well, well. What a foxy old thing you are.” I laughed. 
“I’m beginning to see daylight at last.” 

“I must comess, William, I was beginning to find you a 
little slow in the uptake. That isn’t like you, you know.” 

“I’m sorry, Arthur. But all these riddles make me a bit 


giddy. Suppose you stop asking ttem and lets have the 
whole yam from the beginning?” 

“I assure you, my dear boy, Im more than ready to tell 
you all I know about this affair, which isn’t very much. Well, 
to cut a long story short, Pregnitz is interested in one of the 
largest glass-works in Germany. It doesn’t matter which. You 
wouldn’t find his name on the list of directors; nevertheless, 
he has a great deal of unojSBcial influence. Of course, I don’t 
pretend to understand these matters myself.” 

“A glass-works? Well, that sounds harmless enough.” 

“But, my dear boy,” Arthur was anxiously reassuring, “of 
course it’s harmless. You mustn’t aUow your naturally cau- 
tious nature to upset your sense of proportion. If this proposi- 
tion sounds a little odd to you at first, it’s only because you 
aren’t accustomed to the ways of high finance. Why, it’s the 
kind of thing which takes place every day. Ask anybody 
you like. The largest deals are almost always discussed in- 

“All right! AU right! Go on.” 

“Let me see. Where was I? Ah, yes. Now, one of my most 
intimate friends in Paris is a certain prominent financier — 

“Who signs himself Margot?” 

But this time I didn’t catch Arthur off his guard. I couldn’t 
even guess whether he was s 

“How sharp you are, William! Well, perhaps he does. Any- 
how, we’ll call him Margot for convenience. Yes ... at ^ 
events, Margot is exceedingly anxious to have a chance of 
meeting Pregnitz. Although he doesn’t admit it in so many 
words, I understand that he wishes to propose some sort of 
combine between Pregnitz’s firm and his own. But that’s 
entirely unoflScial; it doesn’t concern us. As for Pregnitz, 
he’ll have to hear Margot’s propositions for himself and de- 
cide whether they’re to the advantage of his firm or not 
Quite possibly, indeed probably, they will be. If not, there’s 
no harm done, Margot will only have himself to blame. All 


urprised or not. He merely 

he’s asking me to arrange is that he meets the Baron socially, 
on neutral ground, where they won’t be bothered by a lot of 
financial reporters and can talk things over quietly.” 

‘‘And as soon as you’ve brought them together, you get the 

“When the meeting has taken place,” Arthur lowered his 
voice, “I get half. The other half will be paid only if the deal 
is successful. But the worst of it is, Margot insists that he 
must see Pregnitz at once. He’s always like that when once 
he gets an idea into his head. A most impatient -man. . . .” 

“And he’s really prepared to give you such a lot simply 
for arranging this meeting?” 

“Remember, William, it seems a mere bagatelle to him. If 
this transaction is successful, he’ll probably make millions.” 

“Well, all I can say is, I congratulate you. It ought to be 
easy enough to earn.” 

“I’m glad you think so, my dear boy.” Arthur’s tone was 
guarded and doubtful. 

“Why, where’s the difficulty? AH you have to do is to go 
to Kuno and explain the whole situation.” 

“William!” Arthur seemed positively horror-stricken. “That 
would be fatal!” 

“I don’t see why.” 

“You don’t see why? Really, dear boy, I must own I 
credited you with more finesse. No, that’s entirely out of 
the question. You don’t know Pregnitz as I do. He’s extraor- 
dinarily sensitive in these matters, as I’ve discovered to my 
cost. He’d regard it as an unwarrantable intrusion into his 
affairs. He’d withdraw at once. He has the true aristocratic 
outlook, which one so seldom finds in these money-grubbing 
days. I admit I admire him for it.” 

I grinned. 

“He seems to be a very peculiar sort of business man, if 
he’s offended when you offer him a fortune.” 

But Arthur was quite heated. 

“William, please, this is no time to be frivolous. Surely you 
must see my point. Pregnitz refuses, and I, for one, entirely 


agree with him, to mix personal with business relationships. 
Coming from you or from me, any suggestion that he should 
enter into negotiations with Margot, or with anybody else, 
would be an impertinence. And he’d resent it as such. There- 
fore, I do beg of you, don’t breathe one word about this to 
him, on any account.” 

“No, of course I won’t. Don’t get excited. But look here, 
Arthur, do 1 understand you to mean that Kuno is to go to 
Switzerland without knowing that he’s there to meet Mar- 

“You put it in a nutshell.” 

“H’m . . . That certainly complicates things, rather. All 
the same, I don’t see why you should have any special dif- 
ficulty. Kuno probably goes to the winter sports, anyhow. 
It’s quite in his line. What I don’t altogether follow is, where 
do I come in? Am I to be brought along simply to swell the 
crowd, or to provide comic relief, or what?” 

Arthur chose and divided another tooth-pick. 

“I was just coming to that point, William.” His tone was 
carefully impersonal. “I’m afraid, you see, you’d have to go 

“Alone with Kuno?” 

“Yes.” Arthur began speaking with nervous rapidity. 
“There are a number of reasons which make it quite impos- 
sible for me to come with you, or to deal with this matter 
myself. In the first place, it would be exceedingly awkward, 
having once left this country, to return to it, as I should be 
obliged to do, even if only for a few days. Secondly, this sug- 
gestion, that we should go together to the winter sports, com- 
ing from me, would sound very odd. Pregnitz knows perfectly 
well that I haven’t the constitution or the taste for such things. 
Coming from you, on the other hand, what could be more 
natural? He’d probably be only too delighted to travel with 
such a young and lively companion.” 

“Yes, I quite see all that . . . but how should I get into 
touch with Margot? I don’t even know him by sight” 

Axthxir dismissed these difficulties with a wave of the hand* 


“Leave that to me, dear boy, and to him. Set your mind at 
rest, forget everything Tve told you this evening, and enjoy 

“Nothing but that?” 

“Nothing. Once youVe got Pregnitz across the frontier 
your duties are at an end.” 

“It sounds delightful.” 

Arthur’s face lit up at once. 

“Then you’ll go?” 

“I must think it over.” 

Disappointed, he squeezed his chin. The tooth-picks were 
divided into eighths. At the end of a long minute he said 

“Quite apart from your expenses, which, as I think I told 
you, will be paid in advance, I should ask you to accept a 
Uttle something, you know, for your trouble.” 

“No, thank you, Arthur.” 

“I beg your pardon, William.” He sounded much relieved. 
“I might have known you wouldn’t.” 

I grinned. 

“I won’t deprive you of your honest earnings.” 

Watching my face carefully, he smiled. He was uncertain 
how to take me. His manner changed. 

“Of course, dear boy, you must do as you think best. I 
don’t want to influence you in any way. If you decide against 
this scheme, I shan’t allude to it again. At the same time, 
you know what it means to me. It’s my only chance. I hate 
begging for favours. Perhaps I’m asking too much of you. I 
can only say that if you do this for me I shall be eternally 
grateful. And if it’s ever in my power to repay you . . 

“Stop, Arthur. Stop! You’ll make me cry.” I laughed. “Very 
well. I’ll do my best with Kuno. But, for Heaven’s sake, don’t 
build your hopes on it. I don’t suppose for a minute he’ll 
come. Probably he’s engaged already.” 

On this understanding, the subject was closed for the 


Next day, when I returned from the tea-party at Kuno s 
flat, I found Arthur waiting for me in his bedroom in a state 
of the most extreme anxiety. He could hardly wait to shut the 
door before hearing my news. 

"Quick, William, please. Tell me the worst. I can bear it 
He won't come? No?" 

"Yes,” I said. “He'll come.” 

For a moment, joy seemed to have made Arthur quite 
speechless, incapable of motion. Then a spasm passed over 
all his limbs; he executed a kind of caper in the air. 

"My dear boyl I must, I really must embrace you!” And 
he literally threw his arms round my neck and kissed me, like 
a French general, on both cheeks. “Tell me all about it. Did 
you have much diflSculty? What did he say?” 

"Oh, he more or less suggested the whole thing himself 
before I had opened my mouth. He wanted to go to the 
Riesengebirge, but I pointed out that the snow would be 
much better in the Alps.” 

"You did? That was brilliant of you, William! Positively 
inspired. . . 

I sat down in a chair. Arthur fluttered round me, admiring 
and delighted. 

"You're quite sure he hasn't the least suspicion?” 

“Perfectly sure.” 

"And how soon shall you be able to start?” 

"On Christmas Eve, I think.” 

Arthur regarded me solicitously. 

"You don't sound very enthusiastic, dear boy. I'd hoped 
this would be a pleasure to you, too. You're not feeling ill, 
by any chance, I trust?” 

“Not in the least, thank you.” I stood up. “Arthur, I'm going 
to ask you something.” 

His eyelids fluttered nervously at my tone. 

“Why— er — of course. Ask away, dear boy. Ask away.” 

"I want you to speak the truth. Are you and Margot going 
to swindle Kuno? Yes or no?” 


‘"My dear William — er — really ... I think you pre- 
sume . . 

‘1 want an answer, please, Arthur. You see, it’s important 
for me to know. Tm mixed up in this now. Are you or aren’t 

“Well, I must say . . . No. Of course not. As I’ve already 
explained at some length, I . . 

“Do you swear that?” 

“Really, William, this isn't a court of law. Don’t look at me 
like that, please. All right, if it gives you any satisfaction, I 
swear it.” 

“Thank you. That’s all I wanted. I’m sorry if I sounded 
rude. You know that, as a rule, I don’t meddle in your aflEairs. 
Only this is my affair too, you see.” 

Arthur smiled weakly, rather shaken. 

“I quite understand your anxiety, dear boy, of course. But 
in this case, I do assure you, it’s entirely unfounded. I’ve 
every reason to believe that Pregnitz will reap great benefits 
from this transaction, if he’s wise enough to accept it.” 

As a final test, I tried to look Arthur in the eyes. But no, 
this time-honoured process didn’t work. Here were no win- 
dows to the soul. They were merely part of his face, light- 
blue jellies, like naked shell-fish in the crevices of a rock. 
There was nothmg to hold the attention; no sparkle, no 
inward gleam. Try as I would, my glance wandered away 
to more interesting features; the soft, snout-hke nose, the 
concertina chin. After three or four attempts, I gave it up. 
It was no good. There was nothing for it but to take Arthur 
at his word. 



My jotoney with Kuno to Switzerland resembled the honey- 
moon trip which follows a marriage of convenience. We 
were polite, mutually considerate and rather shy. Kuno was 
a model of discreet attentiveness. With his own hands, he ar- 
ranged my luggage in the rack, ran out at the last moment 
to buy me magazines, discovered by roundabout inquiries 
that I preferred the upper sleeping-car berth to the lower, 
and retired into the corridor to wait until I was undressed. 
When I got tired of reading, there he was, affable and in- 
formative, waiting to tell me the names of the mountains. We 
chatted with great animation in five-minute spasms, re- 
lapsing into sudden, abstracted silence. Both of us had plenty 
to think about. Kuno, I suppose, was worrying over the 
sinister manoeuvres of German politics or dreaming about 
his island of the seven boys: I had leisure to review the 
Margot conundrum in all its aspects. Did he really exist? 
Well, there above my head was a brand-new pigskin suit- 
case containing a dinner-jacket delivered from the tailor 
only the day before. Arthur had been positively lordly with 
our employer's money. “Get whatever you want, dear boy. It 
would never do for you to be shabby. Besides, what a 
chance . . After some hesitation, I had doubtfully fol- 
lowed his advice, though not to the reckless extent which he 
urged. Arthur even went so far in his interpretation of 
“travelling expenses" as to press upon me a set of gold cuff- 
links, a wrist-watch, and a fountain-pen. “After all, William, 
business is business. You don't know these people as I do." 
His tone, when speaking of Margot, had become remarkably 


bitter: "If you asked him to do anything for you he wouldn’t 
hesitate to squeeze you to the last penny.” 

On Boxing Day, our first morning, I awoke to the tinny 
jingle of sleigh-bells from the snowy street below, and a 
curious clicking noise, also metallic, which proceeded from 
the bathroom. Through the half -open door Kuno was to be 
seen, in a pair of gym shorts, doing exercises with a chest- 
expander. He was straining himself terribly; the veins in 
his neck bulged and his nostrils arched and stiffened with 
each desperate effort. He was obviously unaware, that he was 
not alone. His eyes, bare of the monocle, were fixed in a 
short-sighted, visionary stare which suggested that he was 
engaged in a private religious rite. To speak to him would 
have been as intrusive as to disturb a man at his prayers. I 
turned over in bed and pretended to be asleep. After a few 
moments, I heard the bathroom door softly close. 

Our rooms were on the first floor of the hotel, looking out 
over the houses of the village scattered along the frozen lake 
to the sparkling ski-ing slopes, massive and smooth as the 
contours of an immense body under blankets, crossed by the 
black spider-line of the funicular which climbed to the start 
of the toboggan runs. It seemed a curious background for 
an international business transaction. But, as Arthur had 
rightly said, I knew nothing of the ways of financiers. I got 
dressed slowly, thinking about my invisible host. Was Mar- 
got here already? The hotel was fuU up, the manager had told 
us. To judge from my glimpse of the guests, last night, in the 
huge dining-room, there must be several hundred of them 
staying here. 

Kuno joined me for breakfast. He was dressed, with 
scrupulous informality, in grey flannel trousers, a blazer and 
the knotted silk scarf of his Oxford college colours. 

“You slept well, I hope?” 

‘‘Very well, thank you. And you?” 

“I, not so well.” He smiled, flushed, slightly abashed. “It 
doesn’t matter. In the night-time I had something to read, 
you see?” 


Bashfully he let me see the title of the book he was holding 
in his hand. It was called Billy the Castaway. 

"Is it good?” I asked. 

"There is one chapter which is very nice, I find . . ” 

Before I could hear the contents of the nice chapter, how- 
ever, a waiter appeared with our breakfast on a little wheeled 
car. We reverted at once to our self-conscious honeymoon 

"May I give you some cream?” 

"Just a little, please.” 

"Is this how you like it?” 

"Thank you, that’s delicious.” 

Our voices sounded so absurd that I could have laughed 
out loud. We were hke two unimportant characters in the 
first act of a play, put there to make conversation until it is 
time for the chief actor to appear. 

By the time we had finished breakfast, the immense white 
slopes were infested aheady with tiny figures, some skim- 
ming and criss-crossing hke dragon-flies, some faltering and 
collapsing hke injured ants. The skaters were out in dozens 
on the lake. Within a roped enclosure, an inhumanly agile 
creature in black tights performed wonders before an atten- 
tive audience. Knapsacked, helmeted and booted, some of 
the more active guests were starting out on long, dangerous 
tours of the upper heights, hke soldiers from a luxury bar- 
racks. And here and there, amidst the great army, the 
wounded were to be seen, limping on sticks or with their 
arms in shngs, taking a painful convalescent promenade. 

Attentive as ever, Kuno took it for granted that he was to 
teach me to ski. I should have much preferred to mess about 
alone, but my attempts at pohte dissuasion were in vain. He 
regarded it as his duty; there was no more to be said. So we 
spent two perspiring hours on the beginners’ slope; I sheer- 
ing and stumbling, Kuno admonishing and supporting. “No, 
excuse me, this is again not quite correct . . . you hold your- 
self in too stiff a manner, you see?” His patience seemed inex- 
haustible. I longed for lunch. 


About the middle of the morning, a young man came 
circling expertly among the novices in our neighbourhood. 
He stopped to watch us; perhaps my awkwardness amused 
him. His presence rather annoyed me; I didn’t want an 
audience. Half by accident, half by design, I made a sud- 
den swerve at him when he least expected it and knocked him 
clean ofiE his feet. Our mutual apologies were profuse. He 
helped me to get up and even brushed some of the snow off 
me with his hand. 

“Allow me . . . van Hoorn.” 

His bow, skis and all, was so marvellously stiff that he 
might have been challenging me to a duel, 

“Bradshaw , . . very pleased.” 

I tried to parody it and promptly fell forward on my face, 
to be raised this time by Kuno himself. Somewhat less for- 
mally, I introduced them. 

After this, to my relief, Kuno’s interest in my instruction 
considerably decreased. Van Hoorn was a tall, fair boy, hand- 
some in the severe Viking manner, though he had rather 
spoilt his appearance by shaving off most of his hair. The bald 
back of his head was sunburnt to an angry scarlet. He had 
studied for three semesters, he told us, at the University 
of Hamburg. He was furiously shy and blushed crimson 
whenever Kuno, with his discreedy flattering smile, ad- 
dressed him. 

Van Hoorn could do a turn which interested Kuno ex- 
tremely. They went off for some distance to demonstrate and 
practise it. Presently, it was time for lunch. On our way down 
to the hotel, the young man introduced us to his uncle, a 
lively, plump little Dutchman, who was cutting figures on 
the ice with great skill. The elder Mr. van Hoorn was a con- 
trast to his grave nephew. His eyes twinkled merrily, he 
seemed delighted to make our acquaintance. His face was 
brown as an old boot and he was quite bald. He wore side- 
whiskers and a little pointed beard. 

“So you ve made some friends already?” He addressed his 
nephew in German. “That’s right.” His twinkling eyes re- 


garded Kuno and myself. ‘1 tell Piet he should get to know 
a nice girl, but he won t; he s too shy. I wasn't like that at his 
age, I can tell you.” 

Piet van Hoorn blushed, frowned and looked away, re- 
fusing to respond to Kuno s discreet glance of sympathy. Mr. 
van Hoorn chattered away to me as he removed his skates. 

“So you like it here? My word, so do I! I haven't enjoyed 
myself so much for years. I bet IVe lost a pound or two al- 
ready. Why, I don't feel a day over twenty-one, this 
morning.” . 

As we entered the dining-room, Kuno suggested that the 
van Hoorns should come and sit at our table; he gave a 
meaning glance at Piet as he spoke. I felt rather embarrassed. 
Kuno was certainly a bit crude in his advances. But Mr. van 
Hoorn agreed at once, most heartily. He appeared to find 
nothing odd in the proposal. Probably he was glad enough 
to have some extra people to talk to. 

During lunch, Kuno devoted himself almost entirely to 
Piet. He seemed to have succeeded in thawing the ice a 
little, for, several times, the boy laughed. Van Hoorn, mean- 
while, was pouring into my ear a succession of the oldest and 
most childish smoking-room stories. He related them with 
extraordinary gusto and enjoyment. I scarcely listened. The 
warmth of the dining-room made me sleepy, after the sharp 
air outside; behind palms, tlie band played dreamy music. 
The food was delicious; seldom had I eaten such a lunch. 
And, all the time, I was vaguely wondering where Margot 
was, when and how he w^ould appear. 

Into my coma intruded, with increasing frequency, a few 
sentences of French. I could understand only a word here 
and there: “interesting,” “suggestive,” “extremely typical.” It 
was the speaker s voice which caught my attention. It pro- 
ceeded from the table next to our own. Idly I turned my head. 

A large, middle-aged man sat facing an exoticaDy pretty 
blonde girl of the type which Paris alone produces. Both of 
them were looking in our direction and speaking in carefully 
restrained tones, ob\dousIy about us. The man seemed par- 


ticulary interested. He had a bald, egg-shaped head; bold, 
rudely prominent, round, solemn eyes; yellowish- white hair 
brushed back round the base of the skull like a pair of folded 
wings. His voice was vibrant and harsh. About his whole ap- 
pearance there was something indescribably unpleasant and 
sinister. I felt a curious thrill pass through my nervous sys- 
tem; antagonistic, apprehensive, expectant. I glanced quickly 
at the others; but no, they seemed entirely unaware of the 
stranger's cynical, unconcealed inspection. Kuno was bend- 
ing over to speak to Piet; fishy, caressing and suave. Mr. van 
Hoorn had stopped talking at last and was making up for 
lost time on a grilled steak. He had tucked his napkin into 
his collar and was chewing away with the abandonment of 
one who need no longer fear gravy-stains on his waistcoat. 
I fancied I heard our French neighbour pronounce the word 

I had frequently pictured to myself what Margot would 
look like. I had imagined him fatter, older, more prosaic. 
My imagination had been altogether too timid; I hadn't 
dreamed of anything so authentic, so absolutely, immediately 
convincing. Nobody's intuition could be at fault here. I was 
as certain of his identity as if I'd known him for years. 

It was a thrilling moment. My only regret was that nobody 
could share its excitement with me. How Arthur would have 
enjoyed it! I could imagine his ill-concealed, gleeful agita- 
tion; his private signals which everybody would observe; his 
ludicrously forced attempts to cover up the mystery with 
bright chat. The very thought of them made me want to 
laugh out loud. I didn't dare risk another glance at our 
neighbours, lest they should see from my face what I knew. 
Long ago, I had made up my mind that never, at any stage 
in the proceedings, would I betray my complicity by so much 
as the flicker of an eyelid. Margot had kept his part of the 
bargain; I would show him that I, also, could be trustworthy 
and discreet. 

How would he deliver his attack? This was a really fas- 
cinating question. I tried to put myself in his position; began 


to imagine the most extravagant subtleties. Perhaps he, or 
the girl, would pick Kudos pocket and introduce themselves 
later, pretending to have found his note-case on the floor. 
Perhaps, that night, there would be a sham alarm of fire. 
Margot would plant smoke-bombs in Kuno’s bedroom and 
then rush in to rescue him from the fumes. It seemed obvious 
to me that they would do something drastic. Margot didn’t 
look the man to be content witli half measures. What were 
they up to now? I could no longer hear their voices. Drop- 
ping my napkin somewhat clumsily on the floor, I bent down 
to pick it up and get a peep, only to find to my disappoint- 
ment that the two of them had left the dining-room. I was 
disappointed, but, on thinking it over, not particularly sur- 
prised. This had been merely a reconnoitre. Margot would 
probably do nothing before the evening. 

After lunch, Kuno earnestly advised me to rest. As a be- 
ginner, he explained, it would be most unwise for me to 
exert myself too much on the first day. I agreed, not without 
amusement. A few moments later, I heard him arranging 
with Piet van Hoorn to go out to the toboggan runs. Mr. van 
Hoorn had already retired to his room. 

At tea-time, there was dancing in the lounge. Piet and 
Kuno didn’t appear; neither, to my relief, did Mr. van Hoorn. 
I was quite happy by myself, watching the guests. Presently, 
Margot came in alone. He sat down on the opposite side of 
the big glass veranda, not more than a couple of yards from 
my table. Stealing a glance in his direction, I met his eyes. 
They were cold, prominent, rudely inquisitive as ever. My 
heart thumped uncomfortably. The situation was getting 
positively uncanny. Suppose I were to go over and speak to 
him now? I could save him, after all, a great deal of trouble. 
I had only to introduce him as an acquaintance of mine, met 
here by chance. There was no earthly reason why Kuno 
should suspect anything pre-arranged. Why should we go on 
performing this rather sinister charade? I hesitated, half rose 
to my feet, subsided again. For the second time my eyes met 
his. And now it seemed to me that I understood him per- 


fectly. “Don’t be a little fool,” he was saying. “Leave this to 
me. Don’t try to meddle in things you don’t understand.” 

“All right,” I mentally told him, with a slight shrug of my 
shoulders. “Do as you like. It’s your funeral.” 

And, feeling rather resentful, I got up and walked out of 
the lounge; I couldn’t stand this silent the-a-tete any longer. 

At dinner that night both Kuno and Mr. van Hoorn, in 
their different ways, were in high spirits. Piet looked bored. 
Perhaps he found his evening clotiies as stiff and uncom- 
fortable as I did mine. If so, he had my hearty sympathy. His 
uncle rallied him from time to time on his silence, and I re- 
flected how much I should dislike to travel with Mr. van 

We were near the end of our meal when Margot and his 
companion came into the dining-room. I saw them at once, 
for 1 had been subconsciously keeping my eye on the door 
ever since we had sat down. Margot was wearing a tail-coat, 
with a flower in his button-hole. The girl was dressed magnif- 
icently, in some shimmering material which gleamed like 
silver armour. They passed down the long lane between the 
tables -with many eyes following them. 

“Look, Piet,” exclaimed Mr. van Hoorn, “there’s a pretty 
girl for you. Ask her for a dance this evening. Her father 
won’t bite you.” 

To reach their table, Margot had to pass within a few 
inches of our chairs. As he did so, he briefly inclined his 
head. Kuno, ever gracious, returned the bow. For a mo- 
ment, I thought Margot would follow up this opening, even 
if only with a conventional remark about the weather. He 
did not. The two of them took their places. Almost immedi- 
ately, we rose to go and drink our coffee in the smoking- 

Here, Mr. van Hoorn’s conversation took a surprising turn. 
It was as if he’d realized that the heartiness and the doubtful 
stories had been overdone. He began, quite suddenly, to talk 
about art. He had a house, he told us, in Paris, which was full 
of old furniture and etchings. Although he spoke modestly, 


it soon became clear that he was an expert. Kuno was greatly 
interested. Piet remained indifferent. I saw him cast more 
than one furtive glance at his wrist-watch, presumably to 
see whether it wasu t time for bed. 

“Excuse me, gentlemen."' 

The harsh voice startled all of us; nobody had seen Mar- 
got's approach. He towered above us, an elegant, sardonic 
figure, holding a cigar in his mottled, yellow hand. 

“It is necessary that I ask this young man a question.” 

His bulging eyes fixed upon Piet with a concentration 
which suggested that he was observing some minute insect, 
scarcely visible without the aid of a magnifying glass. The 
poor boy literally began to sweat with embarrassment. As 
for myself, I was so amazed at this new turn in Margot's 
tactics that I could only stare at him, my mouth hanging 
open. Margot himself evidently enjoyed the effect which his 
dramatic appearance had created. His lips curved in a smile 
which was positively diabolic. 

“Have you the true Aryan descent?” 

And before the astounded Piet could answer, he added: 

“I am Marcel Janin.” 

I don't know whether the others had really heard of him, 
or whether their polite interest was merely pretended. As it 
happened, I knew his name quite well. M. Janin was one of 
Fritz Wendel's favourite authors. Fritz had once lent me a 
book of his — The Kiss Under the Midnight Sun, It was writ- 
ten in the fashionable French manner, half romance, half 
reportage, and gave a lurid, obviously imaginative account 
of the erotic life of Hammerfest. And there were half a dozen 
others, equally sensational and ranging in milieu from San- 
tiago to Shanghai. M. Janin's particular brand of pornog- 
raphy, if one was to judge from his clothes, appeared to have 
hit the public taste. He had just finished his eighth, he told 
us: it dealt with the amours peculiar to a winter sport hotel. 
Hence his presence here. After his brusque self-introduction, 
he proved most affable and treated us, without further re- 
quest, to a discourse on his career, aims and methods of work. 


'1 write very quick,” he informed us. "For me, one glance 
is suflScient. I do not believe in the second impression.” 

A couple of days ashore from a cruising liner had furnished 
M. Janin with the material for most of his works. And now 
Switzerland was disposed of, too. Looking for fresh worlds 
to conquer, he had fixed on the Nazi movement. He and his 
secretary were leaving next day for Munich. "Within a 
week,” he concluded ominously, “I shall know all.” 

I wondered what part M. Janin’s secretary (he insisted, 
several times, on this title ) played in his lightning researches. 
Probably she acted as a kind of rough and ready chemical 
reagent; in certain combinations she produced certain known 
results. It was she, it seemed, who had discovered Piet. 
M. Janin, as excited as a hunter in unfamiliar territory, had 
rushed, over-precipitately, to the attack. He didn't seem 
much disappointed, however, to discover that this wasn't his 
legitimate prey. His generalizations, formulated, to save 
time, in advance, were not easily disturbed. Dutchman or 
German, it was all grist to the mill. Piet, I suspected, would 
nevertheless make his appearance in the new book, dressed 
up in a borrowed brown shirt. A writer with M. Janin's 
technique can aflEord to waste nothing. 

One mystery was solved, the other deepened. I puzzled 
over it for the rest of the evening. If Margot wasn't Janin, 
who was he? And where? It seemed odd that he should frit- 
ter away twenty-four hours like this, after being in such a 
hurry to get Kuno to come. To-morrow, I thought, he'll turn 
up for certain. My meditations were interrupted by Kuno 
tapping at my door to ask if I had gone to bed. He wanted 
to talk about Piet van Hoorn, and, sleepy as I felt, I wasn't 
unkind enough to deny him. 

“Tell me, please . , . don't you find him a little like 

“Tony?” I was stupid this evening. “Tony who?” 

Kuno regarded me with gentle reproach. 

“Why, excuse me ... I mean Tony in the book, you 


I smiled. 

"You think Tony is more like Piet than like Heinz?” 

“Oh yes,” Kuno was very definite on this point. “Much 
more like,” 

So poor Heinz was banished from the island. Having re- 
luctantly agreed to this, we said good-night. 

Next morning I decided to make some investigations for 
myself. While Kuno was in the lounge talking to the van 
Hoorns, I got into conversation with the hall porter. Oh yes, 
he assured me, a great many business people were here from 
Paris just now; some of them veiy important. 

“M. Bernstein, for instance, the factory-owner. He’s worth 
millions. . . . Look, sir, he’s over there now, by the desk.” 

I had just time to catch sight of a fat, dark man with an 
expression on his face like that of a sulky baby. I had never 
noticed him anywhere in our neighbourhood. He passed 
through the doors into the smoking-room, a bundle of let- 
ters in his hand. 

“Do you know if he owns a glass factory?” I asked. 

“I’m sure I couldn’t say, sir. I wouldn’t be surprised. They 
say he’s got his finger in nearly everything.” 

The day passed without further developments. In the after- 
noon, Mr. van Hoorn at length succeeded in forcing his bash- 
ful nephew into the company of some lively Polish girls. 
They all went off ski-ing together. Kuno was not best pleased, 
but he accepted the situation with his usual grace. He seemed 
to have developed quite a taste for Mr. van Hoorn’s society. 
The two of them spent the afternoon indoors. 

After tea, as we were leaving the lounge, we came face to 
face with M. Bernstein. He passed us by without the faintest 

As I lay in bed that night I almost reached the conclusion 
that Margot must be a figment of Arthur’s imagination. For 
what purpose he had been created I couldn’t conceive. Nor 
did I much care. It was veiy nice here. I was enjoying myself; 
in a day or two I should have learnt to ski. I would make 


the most of my holiday, I decided; and, following Arthur s 
advice, forget the reasons for which I had come. As for Kuno, 
my fears had been unfounded. He hadn’t been cheated out 
of a farthing. So what was there to worry about? 

On the afternoon of the third day of our visit, Piet sug- 
gested, of his own accord, that we two should go skating on 
the lake, alone. The poor boy, as I had noticed at lunch, 
was near bursting-point. He had had more than enough of his 
uncle, of Kuno and of the Polish girls; it had become neces- 
sary for him to vent his feelings on somebody, and, of a bad 
bunch, I seemed the least unlikely to be sympathetic. No 
sooner were we on the ice than he started: I was astonished 
to find how much and with what vehemence he could talk. 

What did I think of this place? he asked. Wasn’t all this 
luxury sickening? And the people? Weren’t they too idiotic 
and revolting for words? How could they behave as they 
did, with Europe in its present state? Had they no decency at 
all? Had they no national pride, to mix with a lot of Jews who 
were ruining their countries? How did I feel about it, my- 

‘‘What does your uncle say to it all?’' I counter-questioned, 
to avoid an answer. 

Piet shrugged his shoulders angrily. 

“Oh, my uncle ... he doesn’t take the least interest in 
politics. He only cares for his old pictures. He’s more of a 
Frenchman than a Dutchman, my father says.” 

Piet’s studies in Germany had turned him into an ardent 
Fascist. M. Janin’s instinct hadn’t been so incorrect, after 
all. The young man was browner than the Browns. 

“What my country needs is a man like Hitler. A real leader. 
A people without ambition is unworthy to exist.” He turned 
his handsome, humourless face and regarded me sternly. 
“You, with your Empire, you must understand that.” 

But I refused to be drawn. 

“Do you often travel with your uncle?” I asked. 

“No. As a matter of fact I was surprised when he asked me 


to come with him here. At such short notice, too; only a week 
ago. But I love ski-ing, and I thought it would all be quite 
primitive and simple, like the tour I made with some students 
last Christmas. We went to the Riesengebirge. We used to 
wash ourselves every morning with snow in a bucket. One 
must learn to harden the body. Self-disciphne is most impor- 
tant in these times. . . 

“Which day did you arrive here?” I interrupted. 

“Let’s see. It must have been the day before you did.” A 
thought suddenly struck Piet. He became more human. He 
even smiled. “By the way, that’s a funny thing I’d quite for- 
gotten . . . my uncle was awfuUy keen to get to know you.” 

“To know me?” 

“Yes. . . .” Piet laughed and blushed. “As a matter of fact, 
he told me to try and find out who you were.” 

“He did?” 

“You see, he thought you were the son of a friend of his: 
an Englishman. But he’d only met the son once, a long time 
ago, and he wasn’t sure. He was afraid that, if you saw him 
and he didn’t recognize you, you’d be offended.’” 

“Well, I certainly helped you to make my acquaintance, 
didn’t I?” 

We both laughed. 

“Yes, you did.” 

“Ha, ha! How very funny!” 

“Yes, isn’t it? Very funny indeed.” 

When we returned to the hotel for tea, we had some trou- 
ble in finding Kuno and Mr. van Hoom. They were sitting 
together in a remote comer of the smoking-room, at a dis- 
tance from the otiier guests. Mr. van Hoom was no longer 
laughing; he spoke quietly and seriously, with his eyes on 
Kuno’s face. And Kuno himself was as grave as a judge. I 
had the impression that he was profoundly disturbed and 
perplexed by the subject of their conversation. But this was 
only an impression, and a momentary one. As soon as Mr. 
van Hoom became aware of my approach, he laughed loudly 


and gave Kuno’s elbow a nudge, as if reaching the climax of 
a funny story. Kuno laughed too, but with less enthusiasm. 

‘‘Well, well!” exclaimed Mr. van Hoorn. “Here are the 
boys! As hungry as hunters, I’ll be bound! And we two old 
fogies have been wasting the whole afternoon yarning away 
indoors. My goodness, is it as late as that? I say, I want my 

“A telegram for you, sir,” said the voice of a page-boy, just 
behind me. I stepped aside, supposing that he was address- 
ing one of the others, but no; he held the silver tray towards 
me. There was no mistake. On the envelope, I read my name. 

“Aha!” cried Mr. van Hoorn. “Your sweetheart’s getting im- 
patient. She wants you to go back to her.” 

I tore open the envelope, unfolded the paper. The message 
was only three words: 

Please return immediately. 

I read it over several times. I smiled. 

“As a matter of fact,” I told Mr. van Hoorn, “you’re quite 
right. She does.” 

The telegram was signed “Ludwig.” 


Something had happened to Arthur. That much was obvious. 
Otherwise, if he’d wanted me, he’d have sent for me himself. 
And the mess he was in, whatever it was, must have some- 
thing to do with the Party, since Bayer had signed the tele- 


gram. Here my reasoning came to an end. It was bounded by 
guesses and possibilities as vague and limitless as the dark- 
ness which enclosed the train. Lying in my berth, I tried to 
sleep and couldn t. The swaying of the coach, the clank of 
the wheels kept time with the excited, anxious throbbing of 
my heart. Arthur, Bayer, Margot, Schmidt; I tried tlie puzzle 
backwards, sideways, all ways up. It kept me awake the 
whole night. 

Years later it seemed, though actually only the next after- 
noon, I let myself into the flat with the latch-key; quickly 
pushed open the door of my room. In the middle of it sat 
Frl. Schroeder, dozing, in the best arm-chair. She had taken 
off her slippers and was resting her stockinged feet on the 
footstool. When one of her lodgers was away, she often did 
this. She was indulging in the dream of most landladies, that 
the whole place was hers. 

If I had returned from the dead, she could hardly have ut- 
tered a more piercing scream on waking and seeing my figure 
in the doorway. 

“Herr Bradshaw! How you startled me!” 

“Fm sorry, Frl. Schroeder. No, please don’t get up. ^Vhe^e*s 
Herr Norris?” 

“Herr Norris?” She was still a bit dazed. “I don’t know, 
I’m sure. He said he’d be back about seven.” 

“He’s still living here, then?” 

“Why, of course, Herr Bradshaw. WTiat an idea!” Frl. 
Schroeder regarded me with astonishment and anxiety- “Is 
anything the matter? Why didn’t you let me know that you 
were coming home sooner? I was going to have given your 
room a thorough turn-out to-morrow.” 

“That’s perfectly all right. I’m sure every^thing looks very 
nice. Herr Norris hasn’t been ill, has he?” 

“Why, no.” Frl. Schroeder s perplexity 'was increasing with 
every moment. “That is, if he has he hasn’t said a word about 
it to me, and he’s been up and about from morning to mid- 
night. Did he write and tell you so?” 

“Oh no, he didn’t do that . . . only • . . when I went 


away I thought he looked rather pale. Has anybody rung 
up for me or left any messages?” 

‘‘Nothing, Herr Bradshaw. You remember, you told all 
your pupils you would be away until the New Year.” 

“Yes, of course.” 

I walked over to the window, looked down into the dank, 
empty street. No, it wasn’t quite empty. Down there, on the 
corner, stood a small man in a buttoned-up overcoat and a 
felt hat. He paced quietly up and down, his hands folded 
behind his back, as if waiting for a girl friend. 

“Shall I get you some hot water?” asked Frl. Schroeder 
tactfully. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I looked 
tired, dirty and unshaved 

“No, thank you,” I said, smiling. “There’s something I’ve 
got to attend to first. I shall be back in about an hour. Per- 
haps you’d be so kind and heat the bath?” 

“Yes, Ludwig’s here,” the girls in the outer office at the 
Wilhelmstrasse told me. “Go right in.” 

Bayer didn’t seem in the least surprised to see me. He 
looked up from his papers with a smile. 

“So here you are, Mr. Bradshaw! Please sit down. You 
have enjoyed your holiday, I hope?” 

I smiled. 

“Well, I was just beginning to . . 

“When you got my telegram? I am sorry, but it was neces- 
sary, you see.” 

Bayer paused; regarded me thoughtfully; continued: 

“I’m afraid that what I have to say may be unpleasant for 
you, Mr. Bradshaw. But it is not right that you are kept any 
longer in ignorance of the truth.” 

I could hear a clock ticking somewhere in the room; every- 
thing seemed to have become very quiet. My heart was 
thumping uncomfortably against my ribs. I suppose that I 
half guessed what was coming. 

“You went to Switzerland,” Bayer continued, “with a cer- 
tain Baron Pregnitz?” 


^es. That s right." I licked my lips with my tongue. 

Now I am going to ask you a question which may seem 
that I interfere very much in your private affairs. Please 
do not be offended. If you do not wish it, you will not answer, 
you understand?” 

My throat had gone dry. I tried to clear it, and made an 
absurdly loud, grating sound. 

Til answer any question you like,” I said, rather huskily. 

Bayers eyes brightened approvingly. He leant forward 
towards me across the writing-table. 

‘1 am glad that you take this attitude, Mr. Bradshaw. . . . 
You wish to help us. That is good. . . . Now, will you tell 
me, please, what was the reason which Norris gave you 
that you should go with this Baron Pregnitz to Switzer- 

Again I heard that clock. Bayer, his elbows resting on the 
table, regarded me benevolently, with encouraging attention. 
For the second time, I cleared my throat. 

‘Well,” I began, “first of all, you see . . 

It was a long, silly stoiy, which seemed to take hours to tell, 
I hadn’t realized how foolish, how contemptible some of it 
would sound. I felt horribly ashamed of myself, blushed, 
tried to be humorous and weakly failed, defended and then 
accused my motives, avoided certain passages, only to blurt 
them out a moment later, under the neutral inquisition of his 
friendly eyes. The story seemed to involve a confession of all 
my weaknesses to that silent, attentive man. I have never 
felt so humiliated in my life. 

When, at last, I had finished, Bayer made a slight move- 

‘Thank you, Mr. Bradshaw, All this, you see, is very much 
as we had supposed. . . . Our workers in Paris know this 
Mr. van Hoorn already very well. He is a clever man. He has 
given us much trouble.” 

“You mean . . . that he’s a police agent?” 

“UnoflBcially, yes. He collects information of all kinds and 
sells it to those who will pay him. There are many who do 


this but most of them are quite stupid and not dangerous at 

see. . . . And van Hoorn s been making use of Norris 
to collect information?” 

‘That is so. Yes.” 

"But how on earth did he get Norris to help him? What 
story did he tell him? I wonder Norris wasn’t suspi- 

In spite of his gravity, Bayers eyes showed a sparkle of 

"It is possible that Norris was most suspicious indeed. No. 
You have misunderstood me, Mr. Bradshaw. I have not said 
that van Hoorn deceived him. That was not necessary.” 

"Not necessary?” I stupidly echoed. 

"Not necessary. No . . . Norris was quite aware, you see, 
of what van Hoorn wanted. They understood each other very 
well. Since Norris returned to Germany, he has been receiv- 
ing regularly sums of money through van Hoorn from the 
French Secret Service.” 

"I don’t believe it!” 

“Nevertheless, it is true. I can prove it, if you wish. Norris 
has been paid to keep an eye on us, to give information about 
our plans and movements.” Bayer smiled and raised his hand, 
as if to anticipate a protest. "Oh, this is not so terrible as it 
sounds. The information which he had to give was of no im- 
portance. In our movement, we have not the necessity to 
make great plots, as are described of us in the capitalist Press 
and the criminal romances. We act openly. It is easy for all 
to know what we do. It is possible that Norris can have been 
able to tell his friends the names of some of our messengers 
who are going frequently between Berlin and Paris. And, 
perhaps, also, certain addresses. But this can have been only 
at the first.” 

"You ve known about him a long time already, lien?” I 
hardly recognized tlie sound of my own voice, 

Bayer smiled brilliantly. 

"Quite a long time. Yes.” His tone was soothing. "Norris 


has even been very helpful to us, though he did not wish it. 
We were able, occasionally, to convey much false impres- 
sions to our opponents through this channel.” 

With bewildering speed, the jig-saw puzzle was fitting it- 
self together in my brain. In a flash, another piece was added. 
I remembered the morning after the elections; Bayer in this 
very room, handing Arthur the sealed packet from his 
writing-table drawer. 

"Yes ... I see now. . . 

"My dear Mr. Bradshaw.” Bayer s tone was kind, almost 
paternal, "Please do not distress yourself too much. Norris 
is your friend, I know. Mind, I have not said this against him 
as a man; the private life is not our concern. We are all con- 
vinced tliat you cannot have known of this. You ha\^e acted 
throughout with good faith towards us. I wish it had been 
possible to keep you in ignorance over this matter.” 

“What I still don t xmderstand is, how Pregnitz . . 

"Ah, I am coming to that. . . . Norris, you see, found him- 
self unable any longer to satisfy his Paris friends with these 
reports. They were so often insuflScient or false. And so he 
proposed to van Hoorn the idea of a meeting with Pregnitz.” 

"And the glass factory?” 

"It exists only in the imagination of Norris. Here he made 
use of your inexperience. It was not for this that van Hoorn 
paid your expenses to Switzerland. Baron Pregnitz is a poli- 
tician, not a financier.” 

"You don’t mean . . . ?” 

"Yes, this is what I wished to tell you. Pregnitz has access 
to many secrets of the German Government. It is possible 
for him to obtain copies of maps, plans and private docu- 
ments which van Hoorn s employers will pay verj^ much to 
see. Perhaps Pregnitz will be tempted. This does not concern 
us. We wish only to warn you personally, that you may not 
discover yourself innocently in a prison for the high treason.” 

"My God. . , how on earth did you get to know all this?” 

Bayer smiled. 

"You think that we have also our spies? No, that is not 


necessary. All information of this sort one can obtain so 
easily from the police.” 

“Then the police know?” 

“I do not think that they know all for certain, yet. But they 
are very suspicious. Two of them came here to ask us ques- 
tions concerning Norris, Pregnitz and yourself. From these 
questions one could guess a good deal. I believe we have sat- 
isfied them that you are not a dangerous conspirator,” Bayer 
smiled, “nevertheless, it seemed best to telegraph to you at 
once, that you might not be further involved.” 

“It was very good of you to bother what became of me at 

“We try always to help those who help us; although, un- 
fortunately, this is sometimes not possible. You have not seen 
Norris yet?” 

“No. He was out when I arrived.” 

“So? That is excellent. It is better that you should tell him 
these things yourself. Since a week he has not been here. 
Tell him, please, that we wish him no harm; but it will be 
better for himself if he goes away from Germany at once. 
And warn him, also, that the police have him under observ- 
ance. They are opening all letters which he receives or writes; 
of this I am sure.” 

“All right,” I said, “111 tell him that.” 

“You will? That is good.” Bayer rose to his feet. “And now, 
Mr. Bradshaw, please do not make yourself reproaches. You 
have been foolish, perhaps. Never mind; we are all sometimes 
very, very foolish. You have done nothing to be ashamed. I 
think that now you will be more careful with whom you 
make a friend, eh?” 

“Yes, I shall.” 

Bayer smiled. He clapped me encouragingly on the shoul- 

“Then now we will forget this unpleasant matter. You 
would like to do some more work for us soon? Excellent. • . . 
You teU Norris what I said, eh? Good-bye.” 



I shook hands with him, I suppose, and got myself off the 
premises in the usual manner. I must have behaved quite 
normally, because nobody in the outer oflBce stared. It was 
only when I was out in the street tliat I began to run. I was 
suddenly in a tremendous hurry; I wanted to get this over, 

A taxi passed; I was inside it before the driver had had 
time to slow down. “Drive as fast as you can,” I told him. We 
skidded in and out of the traffic; it had been raining and the 
roadway was slimy with mud. The lamps were lighted al- 
ready; it was getting dark. I lit a cigarette and threw it away 
after a couple of puffs. My hands were trembling, otherwise 
I was perfectly calm, not angry, not even disgusted; nothing. 
The puzzle fitted together perfectly. I could see it all, if I 
wished to look at it, a compact, vivid picture, at a single 
glance. All I want, I thought, is to get this over. Now. 

Arthur was back already. He looked out of his bedroom 
as I opened the front door of the flat. 

“Come in, dear boy! Come in! This is indeed a pleasant 
surprise! When Frl. Schroeder told me you'd returned, I 
could hardly believe it. What was it made you come back 
so soon? Were you homesick for Berlin; or did you pine for 
my society? Please say you did! We Ve all missed you very 
much here. Our Christmas dinner was tasteless indeed with- 
out you. Yes ... I must say, you're not looking as well as 
rd expected; perhaps you're tired after the journey? Sit down 
here. Have you had tea? Let me give you a glass of some- 
thing to refresh you?” 

“No, thank you, Arthur.” 

‘Tou won t? Well, well . . . perhaps youTI change your 
mind later. How did you leave our friend Pregnitz? Flourish- 
ing, I hope?” 

“Yes. He's all right.” 

“I'm glad to hear that. Very glad. And now, William, I 
really must congratulate you on the admirable skill and tact 
with which you fulfilled your little mission. Margot was more 


than satisfied. And he’s very particular, you know; very diffi- 
cult to please. , . .” 

‘‘You Ve heard from him, then?” 

“Oh, yes. I got a long telegram this morning. The money 
will arrive to-morrow. Tm bound to say this for Margot: he’s 
most punctual and correct in these matters. One can always 
rely on him.” 

“Do you mean to say that Kuno’s agreed?” 

“No, not that, alas. Not yet. These things aren’t settled in 
a day. But Margot’s distinctly hopeful. It seems that Pregnitz 
was a little difficult to persuade at first. Pie didn’t quite see 
how this transaction would be of advantage to his firm. But 
now he’s become definitely interested. He wants time to think 
it over, of course. Meanwhile, I get half my share as we ar- 
ranged. I’m thankful to say that it’s more than sufficient to 
cover my travelling expenses; so that’s one weight lifted from 
my mind. As for the rest, I’m convinced, personally, that 
Pregnitz will agree in the end.” 

“Yes ... I suppose they all do.” 

“Nearly all, yes . . .” Arthur agreed absently; became 
aware, the next moment, of something strange in my tone^ 
“I don’t think, William, I quite understand what you mean.” 

“Don’t you? I’ll put it more plainly then: I suppose van 
Hoorn usually succeeds in getting people to sell him what- 
ever he wants to buy?” 

“Well — er — ^I don’t loiow that, in this case, one could de- 
scribe it as a sale. As I think I told you . . .” 

“Arthur,” I interrupted wearily, “you can stop lying now* 
I know all about it.” 

“Oh,” he began, and was silent. The shock seemed to have 
taken away his breath. Sinking heavily into a chair, he re- 
garded his finger-nails with unconcealed dismay. 

“This is all my own fault, really, I suppose. I was a fool 
ever to have trusted you. To do you justice, you more or less 
warned me against it, often enough.” 

Arthur looked up at me quickly, like a spaniel which is 
going to be whipped. His lips moved, but he didn’t speak* 


The deep-cleft dimple appeared for a moment in his col- 
lapsed chin. Furtively, he scratched his jowl, withdrawing 
his hand again immediately, as though he were afraid this 
gesture might annoy me. 

‘1 ought to have Imown that you’d find a use for me, sooner 
or later; even if it was only as a decoy duck. You always find 
a use for everybody, don’t you? If I’d landed up in prison it’d 
have damn’ well served me right.” 

'William, I give you my word of honour, I never . . 

“I won’t pretend,” I continued, “that I care a damn what 
happens to Kuno. If he’s fool enough to let himself in for 
this, he does it with his eyes open. . . . But I must say this, 
Arthur: if anybody but Bayer had told me you’d ever do the 
dirty on the Party, I’d have called him a bloody liar. You 
thiiJc that’s very sentimental of me, I suppose?” 

Arthur started visibly at the name. 

“So Bayer knows, does he?” 

“Of course.” 

“Oh dear, oh dear. . . 

He seemed to have collapsed into himself, like a scarecrow 
in the rain. His loose, stubbly cheeks were blotched and pal- 
lid, his Hps parted in a vacant snarl of misery. 

“I never really told van Hoorn anything of importance, 
William. I swear to you I didn’t.” 

“I know. You never got the chance. It doesn’t seem to me 
that you’re much good, even as a crook.” 

“Don’t be angry with me, dear boy. I can’t bear it” 

“I’m not angry with you; I’m angry with myself for being 
such an idiot I thought you were my friend, you see.” 

“I don’t ask you to forgive me,” said Arthur, humbly. 
"‘Tou’U never do that, of course. But don’t judge me too 
harshly. You’re young. Y’our standards are so severe. When 
you get to my age, you’ll see things differently, perhaps. It’s 
very easy to condemn when one isn’t tempted. Remember 

“I don’t condemn you. As for idy standards, if I ever had 
any, you’ve muddled them up completely, I expect you’re 


right. In your place, Td probably have done just the same.’" 

‘‘You see?” Arthur eagerly followed up his advantage. “I 
knew you’d come to look at it in that light.” 

“I don’t want to look at it in any light. I’m too utterly sick 
of the whole filthy business. . . . My God, I wish you’d go 
away somewhere where I’ll never see you again!” 

Arthur sighed. 

“How hard you are, WilHam. I should never have expected 
it. You always seemed to me to have such a sympathetic na- 

“That was what you counted on, I suppose? Well, I think 
you’ll find that the soft ones object to being cheated even 
more than the others. They mind it more because they feel 
that they’ve only themselves to blame.” 

“You’re perfectly justified, of course. I deserve all the 
unkind things you say. Don’t spare me. But I promise you 
most solemnly, the thought that I was implicating you in any 
sort of crime never once entered my head. You see, every- 
thing has gone off exactly as we planned. After all, where was 
the risk?” 

“There was more risk than you think. The police knew aU 
about our little expedition before we’d even started.” 

“The police? William, you’re not in earnest!” 

“You don’t think I’m trying to be funny, do you? Bayer told 
me to warn you. They’ve been round to see him and make 

“My God ” 

The last traces of stiffness had gone out of Arthur. He sat 
there like a crumpled paper bag, his blue eyes vivid with ter- 

“But they can’t possibly . . 

I went to the window. 

“Come and look, if you don’t believe me. He’s still there.” 

“Who’s still there?” 

“The detective who’s watching this house.” 

Without a word, Arthur hurried to my side at the window 
and took a peep at the man in the buttoned-up overcoat, 


Then he went slowly back to his chair. He seemed sud- 
denly to have become much calmer. 

“What am I to do?” He appeared to be thinking aloud 
rather than addressing me. 

“You must clear out, of course; the moment you Ve got this 

“They’ll arrest me, William.” 

“Oh no, they wont. They’d have done it before this, if they 
were going to. Bayer says they’ve been reading all your let- 
ters. . . . Besides, they don’t know everything for certain 
yet, he thinks.” 

Arthur pondered for some minutes in silence. He looked 
up at me in nervous appeal. 

“Then you’re not going to . . He stopped. 

“Not going to what?” 

“To tell them, well — er — everything?” 

“My God, Arthur!” I literally gasped. “What, exactly, do 
you take me for?” 

“No, of course, dear boy . . . Forgive me. I might have 
known. . . .” Arthur coughed apologetically. “Only, just for 
the moment, I was afraid. There might be quite a large re- 
ward, you see, . . 

For several seconds I was absolutely speechless. Seldom 
have I been so shocked. Open-mouthed, I regarded him with 
a mixture of indignation and amusement, curiosity and dis- 
gust. Timidly, his eyes met mine. There could be no doubt 
about it. He was honestly unaware of having said anything 
to surprise or offend. I found my voice at last. 

“Well, of all the ...” 

But my outburst was cut short by a furious volley of knocks 
on the bedroom door. 

“Herr Bradshaw! Herr Bradshaw!” Frl. Schroeder was in 
frantic agitation. “The waters boiling and I cant turn on 
the tap! Come quick this moment, or we shall all be blown 
to bits!” 

“We’ll discuss this later,” I told Arthur, and hurried out of 
the room. 



Theee-<2uabters of an hour later, washed and shaved, I re- 
turned to Arthur s room. I found him peering- cautiously 
down into the street from behind the shelter of the lace cur- 

‘There’s a different one there now, William,” he told me. 
‘‘They relieved each other about five minutes ago.” 

His tone \vas gleeful; he seemed positively to be enjoying 
the situation. I joined him at the window. Sure enough, a 
tall man in a bowler hat had taken the place of his colleague 
at the thankless task of waiting for the invisible girl friend. 

“Poor fellow,” Arthur giggled, “he looks terribly cold, 
doesn’t he? Do you think he’d be offended if I sent him down 
a medicine bottle full of brandy, with my card?” 

“He mightn’t see the joke.” 

Strangely enough, it was I who felt embarrassed. With 
indecent ease, Arthur seemed to have forgotten all the un- 
pleasant tilings I had said to him less than an hour before. 
His manner towards me was as natural as if nothing had hap- 
pened. I felt myself harden towards him again. In my bath, 
I had softened, regretted some cruel words, condemned 
others as spiteful or priggish. I had rehearsed a partial recon- 
ciliation, on magnanimous terms. But Arthur, of course, was 
to make the advances. Instead of which, here he was, blandly 
opening his wine-cupboard with his wonted hospitable air. 

“At any rate, William, you wont refuse a glass yourself? 
It’ll give you an appetite for supper.” 

“No, thank you.” 

I tried to make my tone stem; it sounded merely sulky. 
Arthur’s face fell at once. His ease of manner, I saw now, had 


been only experimental. He sighed deeply, resigned to fur- 
ther penitence, assuming an expression which was like a 
funeral top-hat, lugubrious, hypocritical, discreet. It became 
him so ill, that in spite of myself, I had to smile. 

‘It’s no good, Arthur. I can t keep it up!” 

He was too cautious to reply to this, except with a shy, sly 
smile. This time, he wasn’t going to risk an over-hasty re- 

“I suppose,” I continued reflectively, “that none of them 
were ever really angry with you, were they, afterwards?” 

Arthur didn’t pretend to misunderstand. Demurely he 
inspected his finger-nails. 

“Not everybody, alas, has your generous nature, William ” 
It was no good; we had returned to our verbal card-playing. 
The moment of frankness, which might have redeemed so 
much, had been elegantly avoided. Arthur’s orientally sensi- 
tive spirit shrank from the rough, healthy, modern catch-as- 
catch-can of home-truths and confessions; he offered me a 
compliment instead. Here we were, as so often before, at 
the edge of that delicate, almost invisible line which divided 
our two worlds. We should never cross it now. I wasn’t old or 
subtle enough to find the approach. There was a disappoint- 
ing pause, during which he rummaged in the cupboard. 

“Are you quite sure you won’t have a drop of brandy?” 

I sighed. I gave him up. I smiled. 

“All right. Thanks. I will.” 

We drank ceremoniously, touching glasses. Arthur 
smacked his lips with unconcealed satisfaction. He appeared 
to imagine that something had been symbolized: a reconcilia- 
tion, or, at any rate, a truce. But no, I couldn’t feel this. The 
ugly, dirty fact was still there, right under our noses, and 
no amount of brandy could wash it away. 

Arthur appeared, for the moment, sublimely unconscious 
of its existence. I was glad. I felt a sudden anxiety to protect 
him from a realization of what he had done. Remorse is not 
for the elderly. When it comes to them, it is not purging or 
uplifting, but merely degrading and wretched, like a blad- 


der disease. Arthiir must never repent. And indeed, it didn’t 
seem probable that he ever would. 

“Let s go out and eat/’ I said, feeling that the sooner we 
got out of this ill-omened room the better. Ardiur cast an 
involuntary glance in the direction of the window. 

“Don’t you think, William, that Frl. Schroeder would make 
us some scrambled eggs? I hardly feel like venturing out of 
doors, just now.” 

“Of course we must go out, Arthur. Don’t be silly. You must 
behave as normally as possible, or they’ll think you’re hatch- 
ing some plot. Besides, think of that unfortunate man down 
there. How dull it must be for him. Perhaps, if we go out, 
he’ll be able to get something to eat, too.” 

“Well, I must confess,” Arthur doubtfully agreed, “I hadn’t 
thought of it in that light. Very well, if you’re quite sure it’s 
wise. . . 

It is a curious sensation to know that you are being fol- 
lowed by a detective; especially when, as in this case, you are 
actually anxious not to escape him. Emerging into the street, 
at Arthur’s side, I felt like the Home Secretary leaving the 
House of Commons with the Prime Minister. The man in the 
bowler hat was either a novice at his job or exceedingly 
bored with it. He made no attempt at concealment; stood 
staring at us from the middle of a pool of lamplight. A sort of 
perverted sense of courtesy prevented me from looking over 
my shoulder to see if he w^as following; as for Arthur, his em- 
barrassment was only too painfully visible. His neck seemed 
to telescope into his body, so that three-quarters of his face 
was hidden by his coat collar; his gait was that of a murderer 
retreating from a corpse. I soon noticed that I was sub- 
consciously regulating my pace; I kept hurrying forward in 
an instinctive desire to get away from our pursuer, then slow- 
ing down, lest we should leave him altogether behind. Dur- 
ing the walk to the restaurant, Arthur and I didn’t exchange 
a word. 

Barely had we taken our seats when the detective entered. 
Without a glance in our direction, he strode over to the bar 


and was soon morosely consuming a boiled sausage and a 
glass of lemonade. 

“I suppose,” I said, "that they re not allowed to drink beer 
when they re on duty.” 

"Ssh, William!” giggled Arthur, "hell hear you!” 

"I don’t care if he does. He cant arrest me for laughing 
at him.” 

Nevertheless, such is the latent power of one’s upbringing, 
I lowered my voice almost to a whisper. 

“I suppose they pay him his expenses. You know, we really 
ought to have taken him to the Montmartre, and given him a 

"Or to the opera.” 

"It’d be rather amusing to go to church.” 

We sniggered together, like two boys poking fun at the 
schoolmaster. The tall man, if he was aware of our com- 
ments, bore himself with considerable dignity. His face, pre- 
sented to us in profile, was gloomy, thoughtful, even philo- 
sophic; he might well have been composing a poem. Having 
finished the sausage, he ordered an Italian salad. 

The joke, such as it was, lasted right through our meal. 
I prolonged it, consciously, as much as I could. So, I think, 
did Arthur. Tacitly, we helped each other. We were both 
afraid of a pause. Silence would be too eloquent. And there 
was so little left for us to talk about. We left the restaurant 
as soon as was decently possible, accompanied by our at- 
tendant, who followed us home, like a nurse, to see us into 
bed. Through the window of Arthur’s room, we watched him 
take up his former position, under the lamp-post opposite 
the house. 

"How long win he stay there, do you think?” Arthur asked 
me anxiously. 

“The whole night, probably.” 

"Oh dear, I do hope not. If he does, I shan’t be able to 
sleep a wink.” 

"Perhaps if you appear at your window in pyjamas, hell 
go away.” 


"‘Really, William, I hardly think I could do anything so 
immodest.” Arthur stifled a yawn. 

“Weil,” I said, a bit awkwardly, “I think Til go to bed 

“Just what I was going to suggest myself, dear boy.” Hold- 
ing his chin absently between his finger and thumb, Arthur 
looked vaguely round the room; added, with a simplicity 
wliich excluded all hint of irony: 

“We’ve both had a tiring day.” 

Next morning, at any rate, there was no time to feel em- 
barrassed. We had too much to do. No sooner was Arthur’s 
head free from the barbers hands than I came into his 
room, in my dressing-gown, to hold a conference. The smaller 
detective in the overcoat was now on duty. Arthur had to 
admit that he had no idea if either of them had spent the 
night outside the house. Compassion hadn’t, after all, dis- 
turbed his sleep. 

The first problem was, of course, to decide on Arthur s 
destination. Inquiries must be made at the nearest travel 
bureau as to possible ships and routes. Arthur had already 
decided finally against Europe. 

“I feel I need a complete change of scene, hard as it is 
to tear oneself away. One’s so confined here, so restricted. 
As you get older, William, you’ll feel that the world gets 
smaller. The frontiers seem to close in, until there’s scarcely 
room to breathe.” 

“WTiat an unpleasant sensation that must be.” 

“It is.” Arthur sighed. “It is indeed. I may be a little over- 
wrought at the present moment, but I must confess that, to 
me, the countries of Europe are nothing more or less than a 
collection of mouse-traps. In some of them, the cheese is of a 
superior quality, that is the only difference.” 

We next discussed which of us should go out and make the 
inquiries. Arthur was most unwilling to do this. 

“But, William, if I go myself, our friend below will most 
certainly follow me.” 


“Of course he will. That’s just what we want. As soon as 
you’ve let the authorities know that you mean to clear out, 
you’ll have set their minds at rest. I’m sure they ask nothing 
better than to see your back.” 

“Well, you may be right. . . .” 

But Arthur didn’t like it. Such tactics revolted all his 
secretive instincts. “It seems positively indecent,” he added. 

“Look here,” I said, cunningly. “I’ll go if you really want 
me to. But only on condition that you break the news to Frl. 
Schroeder yourself while I’m away.” 

“Really, dear boy . . . No. I couldn’t possibly do that. 
Very well, have it your own way. . . 

From my window, half an hour later, I watched him 
emerge into the street. The detective took, apparently, not 
the faintest notice of his exit; he was engaged in reading the 
name-plates within the doorway of the opposite house. Ar- 
thur set off briskly, looking neither to left nor right. He re- 
minded me of the man in the poem who fears to catch a 
glimpse of the demon which is treading in his footsteps. The 
detective continued to study the name-plates with extreme 
interest. Then at last, when I had begun to get positively 
exasperated at his apparent blindness, he straightened him- 
self, pulled out his watch, regarded it with evident surprise, 
hesitated, appeared to consider, and finally walked away 
with quick, impatient strides, like a man who has been kept 
waiting too long. I watched his small figure out of sight in 
amused admiration. He was an artist. 

Meanwhile, I had my own, unpleasant task. I found Frl. 
Schroeder in the living-room, laying cards, as she did every 
morning of her life, to discover what would happen during 
the day. It was no use beating about the bush. 

“Frl. Schroeder, Herr Norris has just had some bad news. 
He’ll have to leave Berlin at once. He asked me to tell 
you . , .” 

I stopped, feeling horribly uncomfortable, swallowed, 
blurted out: 

“He asked me to tell you that . . • he’d like to pay for his 


room for January and the whole of February as well . . ” 

Frl. Schroeder was silent. I concluded, lamely — 

“Because of his having to go off at such short notice, you 
see . . 

She didn’t look up. There was a muffled sound, and a 
large tear fell on to the face of a card on the table before her. 
I felt like crying, too. 

“Perhaps . . I was cowardly. “It’ll only be for a few 
months. He may be coming back. . . 

But Frl. Schroeder either didn’t hear or didn’t believe 
this. Her sobs redoubled; she did not attempt to restrain 
them. Perhaps Arthur’s departure was merely the last straw; 
once started, she had plenty to cry about. The rent and taxes 
in arrears, the bills she couldn’t pay, the rudeness of the coal- 
man, her pains in the back, her boils, her poverty, her loneli- 
ness, her gradually approaching death. It was dreadful to 
hear her. I began wandering about the room, nervously 
touching the furniture, in an ecstasy of discomfort. 

“Frl. Schroeder ... it’s all right, really, it is . . . don’t 
. . . please. . . 

She got over it at last. Mopping her eyes on a comer of 
the table-cloth, she deeply sighed. Sadly, her inflamed glance 
moved over the array of cards. She exclaimed, with a kind 
of mournful triumph: 

“Well, I never! Just look at that, Herr Bradshaw. The ace 
of spades . . . upside down! I might have known some- 
thing like this would happen. The cards are never wrong,” 

Arthur arrived back from the travel bureau in a taxi, about 
an hour later. His hands were full of papers and illustrated 
brochures. He seemed tired and depressed. 

“How did you get on?” I asked. 

“Give me time, William Give me time . . . I’m a little 
out of breath. . . .” 

Collapsing heavily into a chair, he fanned himself with 
his hat I strolled over to the window'. The detective wasn’t 
at his usual post Turning my head to the left, I saw him ^ 


however, some way farther down the street, examining the 
contents of the grocer s shop. 

‘‘Is he back already?” Arthur inquired. 

I nodded. 

“Really? To give the devil his due, that young man will 
go far in his unsavoury profession. ... Do you know, Wil- 
liam, he had the effrontery to come right into the ofiBce and 
stand me at the counter? I even heard him making 
inquiries about a trip to the Harz.” 

“Perhaps he really wanted to go there; you never know. He 
may be having his holidays soon.” 

“Well, well . . . at all events, it was most upsetting ... I 
had the greatest difficulty in arriving at the extremely grave 
decision I had to make.” 

“And what’s the verdict?” 

“I much regret to say,” Arthur regarded the buttons on his 
boot despondently, “that it will have to be Mexico.” 

“Good God!” 

“You see, dear boy, the possibilities, at such short notice, 
are very limited ... I should have greatly preferred Rio, 
of course, or the Argentine. I even toyed with China. But 
everywhere, nowadays, there are such absurd formalities. All 
kinds of stupid and impertinent questions are asked. When 
I was young, it was very different. ... An English gentle- 
man was welcome everywhere, especially with a first-class 

“And when do you leave?” 

“There’s a boat at midday to-morrow. I think I shall go 
to Hamburg to-day, on the evening train. It’s more com- 
fortable, and, perhaps, on the whole, wiser; don’t you agree?” 

“I dare say. Yes. . . . This seems a tremendous step to 
take, all of a sudden. Have you any friends in Mexico?” 

Arthur giggled. “I have friends everywhere, WiRiam, or 
shall I say accomplices?” 

“And what shaU you do, when you arrive?” 

“I shall go straight to Mexico City (a most depressing 
spot; although I expect it’s altered a great deal since I was 


there in nineteen-eleven), I shall then take rooms in the 
best hotel and await a moment of inspiration. ... I don't 
suppose I shall starve.” 

“No, Arthur,” I laughed, “I certainly don't see you starv- 

We brightened. We had several drinks. We became quite 

Frl. Schroeder was called in, for a start had to be made 
with Arthur's packing. She was melancholy at first, and in- 
clined to be reproachful, but a glass of cognac worked won- 
ders. She had her own explanation of the reasons for Ar- 
thur’s sudden departure. 

“Ah, Herr Norris, Herr Norris! You should have been more 
careful. A gentleman at your time of life ought to have ex- 
perience enough of these things . . .” She winked tipsily at 
me, behind his back. “Why didn't you stay faithful to your 
old Schroeder? She would have helped you, she knew about 
it all the time!” 

Arthur, perplexed and vaguely embarrassed, looked ques- 
tioningly to me for an explanation. I pretended complete 
ignorance. xAnd now the trunks arrived, fetched down by the 
porter and his son from the attics at the top of the house. 
Frl. Schroeder exclaimed, as she packed, over the magnif- 
icence of Arthur's clothes. Arthur lidmself, generous and gay, 
began distributing largess. The porter got a suit, the porter's 
wife a bottle of sherry, their son a pair of snakeskin shoes 
which were much too small for him, but which he insisted he 
would squeeze into somehow. The piles of newspapers and 
periodicals were to be sent to a hospital. Arthur certainly 
gave things away with an air; he knew how to play the Grand 
Seigneur, The porter's family went away grateful and deeply 
impressed. I saw that the beginnings of a legend had been 

As for Frl. Schroeder herself, she was positively loaded 
with gifts. In addition to the etchings and the Japanese 
screen, Arthur gave her three flasks of perfume, some hair- 
lotion, a powder-pufiE, the entire contents of his wine- 


cupboard, two beautiful scarves, and, amidst much blushing, 
a pair of his coveted silk combinations. 

'1 do wish, William, you d take something, too. Just some 
little trifle. . . ” 

"All right, Arthur, thank you very much. ... I tell you 
what, have you still got Miss SmitKs Torture Chamber? I 
always liked it the best of those books of yours.” 

"You did? Really?” Arthur flushed with pleasure, "How 
charming of you to say so! You know, William, I really think 
I must tell you a secret. The last of my secrets. ... I wrote 
that book myself!” 

"Arthur, you didn’t!” 

“I did, I assure you!” Arthur giggled, delighted. "Years 
ago, now. . . . It’s a youthful indiscretion of which I’ve 
since felt rather ashamed ... It was printed privately in 
Paris. I’m told that some of the best-known collectors in 
Europe have copies in their libraries. It’s exceedingly rare.” 

"And you never wrote anything elseF’ 

“Never, alas. ... I put my genius into my life, not into 
my art. That remark is not original. Never mind. By the way, 
since we are on this topic, do you know that I’ve never said 
good-bye to my dear Anni? I really think I might ask her 
to come here this afternoon, don’t you? After all, I’m not 
leaving until after tea.” 

"Better not, Arthur. You’ll need all your strength for the 

"Well, ha, ha! You may be right. The pain of parting would 
no doubt be most severe, , . 

After lunch, Arthur lay down to rest. I took his trunks in 
a taxi to the Lehrter Station and deposited them in the cloak- 
room. Arthur was anxious to avoid a lengthy ceremony of 
departure from the house. The tall detective was on duty 
now. He watched the loading of the taxi with interest, but 
made no move to follow. 

At tea, Arthur was nervous and depressed. We sat to- 
gether in the disordered bedroom, with the doors of the 


empty cupboards standing open and the mattress rolled up 
at the foot of the bed. I felt apprehensive, for no reason. 
Arthur rubbed his chin wearily, and sighed: 

“I feel like the Old Year, William. I shall soon be gone.” 

I smiled. “A week from now, youll be sitting on the deck 
in the sun, while weYe still freezing or soaking in this 
wretched town. I envy you, I can tell you.” 

“Do you, dear boy? I sometimes wish I didn’t have to do 
so much ti*avelling. Mine is essentially a domestic nature. I 
ask nothing better than to settle down.” 

“Well, why don’t you, then?” 

“That’s what I so often ask myself . . . Something always 
seems to prevent it.” 

At last it was time to go. 

With infinite fuss, Arthur put on his coat, lost and found 
his gloves, gave a last touch to his wig. I picked up liis suit- 
case and we went out into the hall. Nothing was left but the 
worst, the ordeal of saying good-bye to Frl. Schroeder. She 
emerged from the living-room, moist-eyed. 

“Well, Herr Norris . . .” 

The door-bell rang loudly, and there was a double knock 
on the door. The interruption made x\rthur jump. 

“Good gracious! Whoever can that be?” 

“It’s the postman, I expect,” said Frl. Schroeder. “Excuse 
me, Herr Bradshaw. . . .” 

Barely had she opened the door when the man outside it 
pushed past her into the hall. It was Schmidt. 

That he was drunk was obvious, even before he opened 
his mouth. He stood swajnng uncertainly, hatless, his tie 
over one shoulder, his collar awry. His huge face was in- 
flamed and swollen so that his eyes were mere slits. The hall 
w^as a small place for four people. We were standing so close 
together that I could smell his breath. It stank vilely, 

Arthur, at my side, uttered an incoherent sound of dismay, 
and I myself could only gape. Strange as it may seem, I was 
entirely unprepared for this apparition. During the last 


twenty-four hours, I had forgotten Schmidts existence al- 

He was tlie master of the situation, and he knew it. His 
face fairly beamed with malice. Kicking the front door shut 
behind him with his foot, he surveyed the two of us; Ar- 
thurs coat, the suitcase in my hand. 

“Doing a bunk, eh?” He spoke loudly, as if addressing a 
large audience in the middle distance. “I see . . . thought 
you’d give me the slip, did you?” He advanced a pace; he 
confronted the trembling and dismayed Arthur. “Lucky I 
came, wasn’t it? Unlucky for you . . .” 

Arthur emitted another sound, this time a kind of squeak 
of terror. It seemed to excite Schmidt to a positive frenzy of 
rage. He clenched his fists, he shouted with astonisi^g 

“You dirty tyke!” 

He raised his arm. He may actually have been going to 
strike Arthur; if so, I shouldn’t have had time to prevent it. 
All I could do, within the instant, was to drop the suitcase to 
the ground. But Frl. Schroeder’s reactions were quicker and 
more effective. She hadn’t the ghost of an idea what the 
fuss was all about. That didn’t worry her. Enough that Herr 
Norris was being insulted by an unknown, drunken man. 
With a shrill battle-cry of indignation, she charged. Her 
outstretched palms caught Schmidt in the small of the back, 
propelled him forwards, like an engine shunting trucks. 
Unsteady on his feet and taken completely by surprise, he 
blundered headlong through the open doorway into the 
living-room and fell sprawling, face downwards, on the 
carpet. Frl. Schroeder promptly turned the key in the lock. 
The whole manoeuvre was the work of about five seconds. 

“Such cheek!” exclaimed Frl. Schroeder. Her cheeks were 
bright red with the exertion. “He comes barging in here as 
if 3ie place belonged to him. And intoxicated . . . pfui! 
. . . the disgusting pig!” 

She seemed to find nothing particularly mysterious in the 


incident. Perhaps she connected Schmidt somehow with 
Margot and the ill-fated baby. If so she was too tactful to 
say so. A tremendous rattle of knocks on the living-room door 
excused me from any attempt at inventing explanations. 

“Won’t he be able to get out at the back?” Artiiur inquired 

“You can set your mind at rest, Herr Norris. The kitchen 
door’s locked.” Frl. Schroeder turned menacingly upon the 
invisible Schmidt. “Be quiet, you scoundrel! I’ll attend to you 
in a minute!” 

“All the same . . Arthur was on pins and needles, “I 
think we ought to be going . . .” 

“How are you going to get rid of him?” I asked Frl. 

“Oh, don’t you worry about that, Herr Bradshaw. As soon 
as you’re gone, I’ll get the porter’s son up. He’ll go quietly 
enough, I promise you. If he doesn’t, hell be sorry. . . 

We said good-bye hurriedly. Frl. Schroeder was too 
excited and triumphant to be emotional. Arthur kissed her on 
both cheeks. She stood waving to us from the top of the 
stairs. A fresh outburst of muffled knocking was aufflble be- 
hind her. 

We were in the taxi, and half-way to the station before 
Arthur recovered his composure sufficiently to be able to talk. 

“Dear me . . . I’ve seldom made such an exceedingly un- 
pleasant exit from any town, I think . . 

“What you might call a rousing send-off ” I glanced be- 
hind me to make sure that the otiier taxi, with the tall de- 
tective, was stiU following us. 

‘WTiat do you think he’ll do, William? Perhaps he’ll go 
straight to the police?” 

“I’m pre^' sure he won’t. As lon^ as he’s drunk, they won’t 
listen to him, and by the time he’s sober, hell see himself 
that it’s no good. He hasn’t the least idea where you’re going, 
either. For ah he knows, you’ll be out of the country to-night.” 

“You may be right, dear boy. I hope so. I’m sure. I must 


say I hate to leave you exposed to his malice. You will be 
most careful, won’t you?” 

“Oh, Schmidt won’t bother me. Tm not worth it, from his 
point of view. Hell probably find another victim easily 
enough. I dare say he’s got plenty on his books.” 

“While he was in my employ he certainly had oppor- 
tunities,” Arthur agreed thoughtfully. “And I’ve no doubt he 
made full use of diem. The creature had talents — of a per- 
verted kind . . . Oh, unquestionably . . . Yes. . . 

At length it was all over. The misunderstanding with the 
cloak-room official, the fuss about the luggage, the finding 
of a corner seat, the giving of the tip. Arthur leant out of the 
carriage window; I stood on the platform. We had five min- 
utes to spare. 

‘Y'ou’ll remember me to Otto, won’t you?” 

“I will.” 

“And give my love to Anni?” 

“Of course.” 

“I wish they could have been here.” 

“It’s a pity, isn’t it?” 

“But it would have been unwise, under the circumstances. 
Don’t you agree?” 


I longed for the train to start. There was nothing more to 
say, it seemed, except the things which must never be said 
now, because it was too late. Arthur seemed aware of the 
vacuum. He groped about uneasily in his stock of phrases. 

“I wish you were coming with me, William ... I shall 
miss you terribly, you know.” 

“Shall you?” I smiled awkwardly, feeling exquisitely un- 

“I shall, indeed. . . . You’ve always been such a support 
to me. From the first moment we met. . . 

I blushed. It was astonishing what a cad he could make me 
feel. Hadn’t I, after all, misunderstood him? Hadn’t I mis- 
judged him? Hadn’t I, in some obscure way, behaved veiy 
badly? To change the subject, I asked; 


"You remember that journey? I simply couldn’t under- 
stand why they made such a fuss at the frontier. I suppose 
they’d got their eye on you already?’" 

Arthur didn’t care much for this reminiscence. 

"I suppose they had. . . . Yes.” 

Another silence. I glanced at the clock, despairingly. One 
more minute to go. Fumblingly, he began again. 

“Try not to think too hardly of me, William. ... I should 
hate that. . . .” 

“What nonsense, Arthur ...” I did my best .to pass it off 
lightly. “How absurd you are!” 

“Thds life is so very complex. If my behaviour hasn’t al- 
ways been quite consistent, I can truly say that I am and 
always shall be loyal to the Party, at heart. . . . Say you 
believe that, please?” 

He was outrageous, grotesque, entirely without shame. 
But what was I to answer? At that moment, had he de- 
manded it. I’d have sworn that two and two make five. 

“Yes, Arthur, I do believe it.” 

“Thank you, William. . . . Oh dear, now we really are 
off. I do hope all my trunks are in the van. God bless you, 
dear boy. I shall think of you always. Where’s my mackin- 
tosh? Ah, that’s all right. Is my hat on straight? Good-bye. 
Write often, won’t you. Good-bye/’ 

“Good-bye, Arthur,” 

The train, gathering speed, drew his manicured hand from 
mine. I walked a little way down the platform and stood 
waving until the last coach was out of sight. 

As I turned to leave the station, I nearly collided with a 
man who had been standing just behind me. It was the de- 

“Excuse me, Herr KommissarJ" 1 murmured. 

But he did not even smile. 



Early in March, after the elections, it turned suddenly mild 
and warm. “Hitler s weather,” said the porter s wife; and her 
son remarked jokingly that we ought to be grateful to van 
der Lubbe, because the burning of the Reichstag had melted 
the snow. “Such a nice-looking boy,” observed Fri. Schroeder, 
with a sigh. “However could he go and do a dreadful thing 
like that?” The porter s wife snorted. 

Our street looked quite gay when you turned into it and 
saw the black-white-red flags hanging motionless from win- 
dows against the blue spring sky. On the Nollendorfplatz 
people were sitting out of doors before the cafe in their 
overcoats, reading about the coup detat in Bavaria. Goring 
spoke from the radio horn at the comer. Germany is awake, 
he said. An ice-cream shop was open. Uniformed Nazis strode 
hither and thither, with serious, set faces, as though on 
weighty errands. The newspaper readers by the cafe turned 
their heads to watch them pass and smiled and seemed 

They smiled approvingly at these youngsters in their big, 
swaggering boots who were going to upset the Treaty of 
Versailles. They were pleased because it would soon be sum- 
mer, because Hitler had promised to protect the small trades- 
men, because their newspapers told them that the good times 
were coming. They were suddenly proud of being blond. 
And they thrilled with a furtive, sensual pleasure, like school- 
boys, because the Jews, their business rivals, and the Marxists, 
a vaguely defined minority of people who didn't concern 
them, had been satisfactorily found guilty of the defeat and 
the inflation, and were going to catch it 


The town was full of whispers. They told of illegal mid- 
night arrests, of prisoners tortured in the S.A. barracks, made 
to spit on Lenin s picture, swallow castor-oil, eat old socks. 
They were drowned by the loud, angry voice of the Gov- 
ernment, contradicting through its thousand mouths. But 
not even Goring could silence Helen Pratt. She had decided 
to investigate the atrocities on her own account. Morning, 
noon and night, she nosed round the city, ferreting out the 
victims or their relations, crossexamining them for details. 
These unfortunate people were reticent, of course, and 
deadly scared. They dicrn’t want a second dose. But Helen 
was as relentless as their torturers. She bribed, cajoled, pes- 
tered. Sometimes, losing her patience, she threatened. What 
would happen to them afterwards frankly didn’t interest her. 
She was out to get facts. 

It was Helen who first told me that Bayer was dead. She 
had absolutely reliable evidence. One of the oflBce staff, since 
released, had seen his corpse in the Spandau barracks. “It’s 
a funny thing,” she added, “his left ear was torn right off 
. . . God knows why. It’s my belief that some of this gang 
are simply loonies. Why, Bill, what’s the matter? You’re 
going green round the gills.” 

“That’s how I feel,” I said. 

An awkward thing had happened to Fritz Wendel. A few 
days before, he had had a motor accident; he had sprained 
his wrist and scratched the skin off his cheek. The injuries 
weren’t at aU serious, but he had to wear a big piece of 
sticking-plaster and carry his arm in a sling. And now, in 
spite of the lovely weather, he wouldn’t venture out of doors. 
Bandages of any kind gave rise to misunderstandings, espe- 
cially when, like Fritz, you had a dark complexion and coal- 
black hair. Passers-by made unpleasant and threatening re- 
marks. Fritz wouldn’t admit this, of course. “Hell, what I 
mean, one feels such a dam’ fool.” He had become exceed- 
ingly cautious. He wouldn’t refer to politics at all, even when 


we were alone together. “Eventually it had to happen/’ was 
his only comment on the new regime. As he said this, he 
avoided my eyes. 

The whole city lay under an epidemic of discreet, infec- 
tious fear. I could feel it, like influenza, in my bones. When 
the first news of the house-searchings began to come in, I 
had consulted with Frl. Schroeder about the papers which 
Bayer had given me. We hid them and my copy of the Com- 
munist Manifesto under the wood-pile in the kitchen. Un- 
building and rebuilding the wood-pile took half an hour, 
and before it was finished our precautions had begun to 
seem rather childish. I felt a bit ashamed of myself, and 
consequently exaggerated the importance and danger of my 
position to Frl. Schroeder, who listened respectfully, with 
rising indignation. “You mean to say they’d come into my 
flat, Herr Bradshaw? Well, of all the cheek. But just let them 
try it! Why, I’d box their ears for them; I declare I would!” 

A night or two after this, I was woken by a tremendous 
banging on the outside door. I sat up in bed and switched on 
the light. It was just three o’clock. Now I’m for it, I thought. 
I wondered if they’d allow me to ring up the Embassy. 
Smoothing my hair tidy with my hand, I tried, not very suc- 
cessfully, to assume an expression of haughty contempt. But 
when, at last, Frl. Schroeder had shuffled out to see what 
was the matter, it was only a lodger from next door who’d 
come to the wrong flat because he was drunk. 

After this scare, I suffered from sleeplessness. I kept fancy- 
ing I heard heavy wagons drawing up outside our house. I 
lay waiting in the dark for the ringing of the door-bell. A 
minute. Five minutes. Ten. One morning, as I stared, half 
asleep, at the wallpaper above my bed, the pattern suddenly 
formed itself into a chain of little hooked crosses. What was 
worse, I noticed that everything in the room was really a 
kind of brown: either green-brown, black-brown, yellow- 
brown, or red-brown; but all brown, unmistakably. When 
I had had breakfast and taken a purgative, I felt "better. 


One morning, I had a visit from Otto, 

It must have been about half -past six when he rang our 
bell. Frl. Schroeder wasn t up yet; I let him in myself. He 
was in a filthy state, his hair tousled and matted, a stain of 
dirty blood down the side of his face from a scratch on the 

‘‘Servus, WilliJ* he muttered. He put out his hand sud- 
denly and clutched my arm. With diSBculty, I saved him 
from falling. But he wasn*t drunk, as I at first imagined; 
simply exhausted. He flopped down into a chair in my room. 
When I returned from shutting the outside door, he was al- 
ready asleep. 

It was rather a problem to know what to do with him. I 
had a pupil coming early. Finally, Frl. Schroeder and I 
managed, between us, to lug him, still half asleep, into Ar- 
thur s old bedroom and lay him on the bed. He was in- 
credibly heavy. No sooner was he laid on his back than he be- 
gan to snore. His snores were so loud that you could hear 
tibem in my room, even when the door was shut; they con- 
tinued, audibly, throughout the lesson. Meanwhile, my pupil, 
a very nice young man who hoped soon to become a school- 
master, was eagerly adjuring me not to believe the stories, 
“invented by Jewish emigrants,” about the political persecu- 

“Actually,” he assured me, “these so-called communists are 
merely a handful of criminals, the scum of the streets. And 
most of them are not Germans at all.” 

“I thought,” I said politely, “that you were telling me just 
now that they drew up the Weimar Constitution?” 

This rather staggered him for the moment; but he made 
a good recovery. 

“No, pardon me, the Weimar Constitution was the work of 
Marxist Jews.” 

“Ah, the Jews ... to be sure.” 

My pupil smiled. My stupidity made him feel a bit su- 
perior. I think he even liked me for it. A particularly loud 
snore came from the next room. 


"For a foreigner he politely conceded, "German politics 
are very compHcated 

"Very ” I agreed. 

Otto woke about tea-time, ravenously hungry. I went out 
and bought sausages and eggs and Frl. Schroeder cooked 
him a meal while he washed. Afterwards we sat together in 
my room. Otto smoked one cigarette after another; he was 
very nervy and couldn’t sit still. His clothes were getting 
ragged and the collar of his sweater was frayed. His face 
was full of hollows. He looked like a grown man now, at 
least five years older. 

Frl. Schroeder made him take off his jacket. She mended 
it while we talked, interjecting, at interv’als: “Is it possible? 
The idea . . . how dare they do such a thing! That’s what 
I’d like to know!” 

Otto had been on the run for a fortnight, now, he told us. 
Two nights after the Reichstag fire, his old enemy, Werner 
Baldow, had come round, with six others of his storm-troop, 
to “arrest” him. Otto used the word without irony; he seemed 
to find it quite natural. “There’s lots of old scores being paid 
off nowadays,” he added, simply. 

Nevertheless, Otto had escaped, through a skylight, after 
kicking one of the Nazis in the face. They had shot at him 
twice, but missed. Since then he’d been wandering about 
Berlin, sleeping only in the daytime, walking the streets at 
night, for fear of house-raids. The first week hadn’t been so 
bad; comrades had put him up, one passing him on to an- 
other. But that was getting too risky now. So many of them 
were dead or in the concentration camps. He’d been sleeping 
when he could, taking short naps on benches in parks. But 
he could never rest properly. He had always to be on the 
watch. He couldn’t stick it any longer. To-morrow he was 
going to leave Berlin. He’d try to work his way down to the 
Saar. Somebody had told him that was the easiest frontier 
to cross. It was dangerous, of course, but better than being 
cooped up here. 

I asked what had become of Ann!. Otto didn’t know. He’d 


heard she was with Werner Baldow again. What else could 
you expect? He wasn’t even bitter; he just didn’t care. And 
Olga? Oh, Olga was doing finely. That remarkable business 
woman had escaped the clean-up through the influence of 
one of her customers, an important Nazi official. Others had 
begun to go there, now. Her future was assured. 

Otto had heard about Bayer. 

‘They say Thalmann’s dead, too. And Renn. Junge, 
Junge, . . 

We exchanged rumours about other well-known names. 
Frl. Schroeder shook her head and murmured over each. She 
was so genuinely upset that nobody would have dreamed 
she was hearing most of them for the first time in her life. 

The talk turned naturally to Arthur. We showed Otto the 
postcards of Tampico which had arrived, for both of us, 
only a week ago. He examined them with admiration. 

‘T suppose he’s carrying on the work there?” 

“What work?” 

“The Party work, of coursel” 

“Oh, yes,” I hastily agreed. “Of course he is.” 

“It was a bit of luck that he went away when he did, washt 


“Yes . , . it certainly was.” 

Otto’s eyes shone. 

“We needed more men like old Arthur in the Party. He 
was a speaker, if you like!” 

His enthusiasm warmed Frl. Schroeder’s heart. The tears 
stood in her eyes. 

“I always shall say Herr Norris was one of the best and 
finest and straightest gentlemen I ever knew.” 

We were all silent. In the twilit room we dedicated a 
grateful, reverent moment to Arthur’s memory. Then Otto 
continued in a tone of profound conviction: 

“Do you know what I think? He’s working for us out there, 
making propaganda and raising money; and one day, you’ll 
see, hell come back. Hitler and the rest of them viffil have 
to look out for themselves then. . . 


It was getting dark outside. Frl. Schroeder rose to turn 
on the light. Otto said he must be going. He'd decided to 
make a start this evening now that he was feeling rested. By 
daybreak, he'd be clear of Berlin altogether. Frl. Schroeder 
protested vigorously. She had taken a great fancy to him. 

""Nonsense, Herr Otto. You'll sleep here to-night. You need 
a thorough rest. Those Nazis will never find you here. They'd 
have to cut me into little pieces first." 

Otto smiled and thanked her warmly, but he wasn't to be 
persuaded. We had to let him go. Frl. Schroeder filled his 
pockets with sandwiches. I gave him three handkerchiefs, an 
old penknife, and a map of Germany printed on a postcard 
which had been slipped in through our letter-box to advertise 
a firm of bicycle makers. Even this would be better than 
nothing, for Otto's geography was alarmingly weak. Un- 
guided, he would probably have found himself heading for 
Poland. I wanted to give him some money, too. At first he 
wouldn't hear of it, and I had to resort to the disingenuous 
argument that we were brother communists. ""Besides," I 
added craftily, ""you can pay me back." We shook hands 
solemnly on this. 

He was astonishingly cheerful at parting. From his manner 
you would have supposed that it was we who needed en- 
couragement, not he. 

""Cheer up, Willi. Don't you worry . . . Our time will 

""Of course it will. Good-bye, Otto. Good luck." 


We watched him set off, from my window. Frl. Schroeder 
had begun to sniff. 

""Poor boy . . . Do you think he's got a chance, Herr 
Bradshaw? I declare I shan't sleep the whole night, thinking 
about him. It's as if he were my own son.” 

Otto turned once to look back; he waved his hand jauntily 
and smiled. Then he thrust his hands into his pockets, 
hunched his shoulders and strode rapidly away, with the 
heavy, agile gait of a boxer, down the long dark street and 


into the lighted square, to be lost amidst the sauntering 
crowds of his enemies. 

I never saw or heard of him again. 

Three weeks later I returned to England. 

I had been in London nearly a month, when Helen Pratt 
came round to see me. She had arrived back from Berlin the 
day before, having triumphantly succeeded, with a series of 
scalding articles, in getting the sale of her periodical forbid- 
den throughout Germany. Already she’d been offered a much 
better job in America. She was sailing within a fortnight to 
attack New York. 

She exuded vitality, success and news. The Nazi Revolu- 
tion had positively given her a new lease of life. To hear her 
talk, you might have thought she had spent the last two 
months hiding in Dr, Goebbels’ writing-desk or under Hit- 
ler s bed. She had the details of every private conversation 
and the low-down on every scandal. She knew what Schacht 
had said to Norman, what von Papen had said to Meissner, 
what Schleicher might shortly be expected to say to the 
Crown Prince. She knew the amounts of Thyssen’s cheques. 
She had new stories about Roehm, about Heines, about 
Goring and his uniforms. “My God, Bill, what a racket!” She 
talked for hours. 

Exhausted at last of all the misdeeds of the great, she 
started on the lesser fry. 

“I suppose you heard all about the Pregnitz affair, didn’t 

“No. Not a word.” 

“Gosh, you are behind the times!” Helen brightened at the 
prospect of yet another story. “Why, that can’t have been 
more than a week after you left. They kept it fairly quiet, of 
course, in the papers. A pal of mine on the New York Herald 
gave me all the dope.” 

But, on this occasion, the dope wasn’t all on Helen’s side. 
Naturally, she didn’t know everything about van Hoorn. The 
temptation to fill out tiie gaps in her story, or, at least, to be- 


tray my knowledge of them, was considerable. Thank good- 
ness, I didn’t yield to it. She was no more to be trusted with 
news than a cat with a saucer of milk. And, indeed, I was 
astonished how much her resourceful colleague had found 
out on his own account. 

The police must have been keeping Kuno under observa- 
tion ever since our Swiss visit. Their patience had certainly 
been remarkable, because, for three whole months, he had 
done absolutely nothing to arouse their suspicions. Then, 
quite suddenly, at the beginning of April, he had got into 
communication with Paris. He was ready, he said, to re- 
consider the business they had discussed. His first letter was 
short and carefully vague; a week later, under pressure from 
van Hoorn, he wrote a much longer one, giving explicit de- 
tails of what he proposed to sell. He sent it by special mes- 
senger, taking all due precautions and employing a code. 
Within a few hours, the police had deciphered every word. 

They went round to arrest him that afternoon at his flat. 
Kuno was out, having tea with a friend. His manservant had 
just time to telephone to him a guarded warning, before the 
detectives took possession. Kuno seems to have lost his head 
completely. He did the worst thing possible: jumped into a 
taxi and drove straight to the Zoo Station. The plain-clothes 
men there recognized him at once. They’d been supplied with 
his description that very morning, and who could mistake 
Kuno? Cruelly enough, they let him buy a ticket for the 
next available train; it happened to be going to Frankfurt- 
on-the-Oder. As he went up the steps to the platform, two 
detectives came forward to arrest him; but he was ready for 
that, and bolted down again. The exits were all guarded, of 
course. Kuno’s pursuers lost him in the crowd; caught sight 
of him again as he ran through the swing doors into the 
lavatory. By the time they had elbowed their way through 
the people, he had already locked himself into one of the 
closets. ("The newspapers” said Helen, scornfully, "called 
it a telephone-box.”) The detectives ordered him to come 
out He wouldn’t answer. Finally, they had to clear the 


whole place and get ready to break down the door. It was 
then that Kuno shot himself. 

‘^And he couldn’t even make a decent job of that,” Helen 
added. ""Fired crooked. Nearly blew his eye out; bled like a 
pig. They had to take him to hospital to finish him off.” 

""Poor devil.” 

Helen looked at me curiously. 

""Good riddance to bad rubbish, I should have said.” 

""You see,” I apologetically confessed, ""I knew him, 
slightly . . .” 

"'Well, I’m Mowed! Did you? Sorry. I must say. Bill, you’re 
a nice little chap, but you do have some queer friends. Well, 
this ought to interest you, then. You knew Pregnitz was a 
fairy, of course?” 

""I rather guessed something of the kind.” 

“Well, my pal got on to the inside story of why Pregnitz 
went in for this treason racket at all. He needed cash quickly, 
you see, because he was being blackmailed. And who, do you 
think, was doing the blackmailing? None other than the 
secretary of anoQier dear old friend of yours, Harris.” 


""That’s right. Well, it seems that this precious secretary 
. . . what was his name, by the way?” 


“Was it? I dare say. Just suits him. . . . Schmidt had got 
hold of a lot of letters Pregnitz had written to some youth. 
God alone knows how. Pretty hot stuff they must have been, 
if Pregnitz was prepared to risk his skin to pay for them. 
Shouldn’t have thought it was worth it myself. Rather face 
the music. But these people never have any guts. . . 

“Did your friend find out what happened to Schmidt after- 
wards?” I asked. 

“Don’t suppose so, no. Why should he? What does happen 
to these creatures? He’s probably abroad, somewhere, blow- 
ing the cash. He’ d got quite a lot out of Pregnitz, already, it 
seems. As far as I’m concerned, he’s welcome to it. 


T know one person ” I said, “who might be interested ” 

A few days after this, I got a letter from Arthur, He was in 
Mexico City now, and hating it. 

Let me advise you, my dear boy, with all the solenmity 
of which I am capable, never to set foot in this odious 
town. On the material plane, it is true, I manage to pro- 
vide myself with most of my accustomed comforts. But 
the complete lack of intelligent society, at least, as I 
understand the term, afflicts me deeply . . . 

Arthur didn’t say much about his business afiFairs; he was 
more guarded than of old. 

“Times are very bad, but, on the whole, I can t complain,” 
was his only admission. On the subject of Germany, he let 
himself go, however: 

It makes me positively tremble with indignation to 
think of the workers delivered over to these men, who, 
whatever you may say, are nothing more or less than 

And, a little farther down the page: 

It is indeed tragic to see how, even in these days, a 
clever and unscrupulous liar can deceive millions. 

In conclusion, he paid a handsome tribute to Bayer: 

A man I always admired and respected. I feel proud to 
be able to say that I was his friend. 

I next heard of Arthur in June, on a postcard from Cali- 

I am basking here in the sunshine of Santa Monica. 
After Mexico, this is indeed a Paradise. I have a little 
ventare on foot, not unconnected with the film industry. 

I think and hope it may turn out quite profitably. WiD 
write again soon. 


He did write, and sooner, no doubt, than he had originally 
intended. By the next mail, I got another postcard, dated a 
day later. 

The very worst has happened. Am leaving for Costa 
Rica tonight. All details from there. 

This time I got a short letter. 

If Mexico was Purgatory, this is the Inferno itself. 

My Californian idyll was rudely cut short by the ap- 
pearance of SchmidtI!! The creature's ingenuity is posi- 
tively superhuman. Not only had he followed me there, 
but he had succeeded in finding out the exact nature of 
the little deal I was hoping to put through. I was entirely 
at his mercy. I was compelled to give him most of my 
hard-earned savings and depart at once. 

Just imagine, he even had the insolence to suggest 
that I should employ him, as before!! 

I don't know yet whether 1 have succeeded in throw- 
ing him oflF my track. I hardly dare to hope. 

At least, Arthur wasn't left long in doubt. A postcard soon 
followed the letter. 

The Monster has arrived!!! May try Peru. 

Other glimpses of this queer journey reached me from 
time to time. Arthur had no luck in Lima. Schmidt turned up 
within the week. From there, the chase proceeded to Chile. 

‘‘An attempt to exterminate the reptile failed miserably," 
he wrote from Valparaiso. “I succeeded only in arousing its 

I suppose this is Arthur s ornate way of saying that he had 
tried to get Schmidt murdered. 

In Valparaiso, a truce seems, however, to have been at 
last declared. For the next postcard, announcing a train 
foumey to the Argentine, indicated a new state of affairs; 


We leave this afternoon, together ^ for Buenos Aires. 

Am too depressed to write more now. 

At present, they are in Rio. Or were when I last heard. It 
is impossible to predict their movements. Any day Schmidt 
may set oflF for fresh hunting-grounds, dragging Arthur after 
him, a protesting employer-prisoner. Their new partnership 
won’t be so easy to dissolve as their old one. Henceforward, 
they are doomed to walk the Earth together. I often think 
about them and wonder what I should do if, by any unlucky 
chance, we were to meet. I am not particularly sorry for 
Arthur. After all, he no doubt gets his hands on a good deal 
of money. But he is very sorry for himself. 

“Tell me, William,” his last letter concluded, **v)hat have 
I done to deserve all this?” 





John & Beatrix Lehmann 

(Autumn 1930) 

From my window, the deep solemn massive street Cellar- 
shops where the lamps bum aU day, under the shadow of 
top-heavy balconied facades, dirty plaster frontages em- 
bossed with scrollwork and heraldic devices. The whole dis- 
trict is like this: street leading into street of houses like 
shabby monumental safes crammed with the tarnished valu- 
ables and second-hand furniture of a bankmpt middle class. 

I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, re- 
cording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the 
window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her 
hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully 
printed, fixed. 

At eight o’clock in the evening the house-doors will be 
locked. The children are having supper. The shops are shut. 
The electric-sign is switched on over the night-bell of the 
little hotel on the comer, where you can hire a room by the 
hour. And soon the whistling ^1 begin. Young men are 
calling their girls. Standing down there in the cold, they 
whistle up at the lighted windows of warm rooms where 
the beds are already turned down for the night They want 
to be let in. Their signals echo down the deep hollow street, 
lascivious and private and sad. Because of the whistling, I 
do not care to stay here in the evenings. It reminds me that 
I am in a foreign city, alone, far from home. Sometimes I 
determine not to listen to it, pick up a book, tiy to read. 
But soon a call is sure to sound, so piercing, so insistent, so 
despairingly human, that at last I have to get up and peep 
through the slats of the Venetian blind to make quite sure 


that it is not — ^as I know very well it could not possibly be — 
for me. 

The extraordinary smell in this room when the stove is 
Kghted and the window shut; not altogether unpleasant, a 
mixture of incense and stale buns. The tall tiled stove, gor- 
geously coloured, like an altar. The washstand like a Gothic 
shrine. The cupboard also is Gothic, with carved cathedral 
windows: Bismarck faces the King of Prussia in stained glass. 
My best chair would do for a bishop’s throne. In the comer, 
three sham medieval halberds (from a theatrical touring 
company?) are fastened together to form a hatstand. Frl, 
Schroeder unscrews the heads of the halberds and polishes 
them from time to time. They are heavy and sharp enough 
to kill. 

Everything in the room is like that: unnecessarily solid, 
abnormally heavy and dangerously sharp. Here, at the 
writing-table, I am confronted by a phalanx of metal ob- 
jects — a pair of candlesticks shaped like entwined serpents, 
an ashtray from which emerges the head of a crocodile, a 
paper-knife copied from a Florentine dagger, a brass dolphin 
holding on the end of its tail a small broken clock. What be- 
comes of such things? How could they ever be destroyed? 
They will probably remain intact for thousands of years: 
people will treasure them in museums. Or perhaps they will 
merely be melted down for munitions in a war. Every morn- 
ing, Frl. Schroeder arranges them very carefully in certain 
unvarying positions: there they stand, like an uncompromis- 
ing statement of her views on Capital and Society, Religion 
and Sex. 

All day long she goes padding about the large dingy flat. 
Shapeless but alert, she waddles from room to room, in car- 
pet slippers and a flowered dressing-gown pinned ingeniously 
together, so that not an inch of petticoat or bodice is to be 
seen, flicking vwth her duster, peeping, spying, poking her 
diort points nose into the cupboards and luggage of her 


lodgers. She has dark, bright, inquisitive eyes and pretty 
waved brown hair of which she is proud. She must be about 
fifty-five years old. 

Long ago, before the War and the Inflation, she used to 
be comparatively well off. She went to the Baltic for her 
summer holidays and kept a maid to do the housework. For 
the last thirty years she has lived here and taken in lodgers. 
She started doing it because she liked to have company. 

" ‘Lina,’ my friends used to say to me, ‘however can you? 
How can you bear to have strange people living in your rooms 
and spoiling your furniture, especially when you’ve got the 
money to be independent?’ And I’d always give them the 
same answer. "My lodgers aren’t lodgers,’ I used to say. 
TThey’re my guests.’ 

“You see, Herr Issyvoo, in those days I could afford to be 
very particular about the sort of people who came to live 
here. I could pick and choose. I only took tliem really well 
connected and well educated — ^proper gentlefolk (like your- 
self, Herr Issyvoo). I had a Freiherr once, and a Rittmeister 
and a Professor. They often gave me presents — a bottle of 
cognac or a box of chocolates or some flowers. And w’hen one 
of them went away for his holidays he’d always send me a 
card — from London, it might be, or Paris, or Baden-Baden. 
Ever such pretty cards I used to get. . . .” 

And now Frl. Schroeder has not even got a room of her 
own. She has to sleep in the living-room, behind a screen, on 
a small sofa vdth broken springs. As in so many of the older 
Berlin flats, our living-room connects the front part of the 
house with the back. The lodgers who live on the front have 
to pass through the living-room on their way to the bath- 
room, so that Frl. Schroeder is often disturbed during the 
night. “But I drop off again at once. It doesn’t worry me. 
I’m much too tired.” She has to do all the housework herself 
and it takes up most of her day. “Twenty years ago, if any- 
body had told me to scrub my own floors. I’d have slapped 
his face for him. But you get used to it. You can get used to 
anything. Why, I remember the time when I’d have sooner 


cut off my right hand than empty this chamber. , . . And 
now,” says Frl. Schroeder, suiting the action to the word, 
‘^my goodness! It s no more to me than pouring out a cup of 

She is fond of pointing out to me the various marks and 
stains left by lodgers who have inhabited this room: 

“Yes, Herr Issyvoo, I've got something to remember each 
of them by. . . . Look there, on the rug — IVe sent it to the 
cleaners I don’t know how often but nothing will get it out 
— ^that’s where Herr Noeske was sick after his birthday party. 
What in the world can he have been eating, to make a mess 
like that? He’d come to Berlin to study, you know. His par- 
ents lived in Brandenburg — a first-class family; oh, I assure 
you! They had pots of money! His Herr Papa was a surgeon, 
and of course he wanted his boy to follow in his footsteps. 
. , . What a charming young man! "Herr Noeske,’ I used to 
say to him, ‘excuse me, but you must really work harder — 
you with aU your brains! Think of your Herr Papa and your 
Frau Mama; it isn’t fair to them to waste their good money 
JSke that. Why, if you were to drop it in the Spree it would 
be better. At least it would make a splash!’ I was like a mother 
to him. And always, when he’d got himself into some scrape 
— ^he was terribly thoughtless — ^he’d come straight to me: 
"Schroederschen,’ he used to say, ‘please don’t be angry with 
me, . . . We were playing car^ last night and I lost the 
whole of this month’s allowance. I daren’t teU Father. . . 
And then he’d look at me with those great big eyes of his. I 
knew exactly what he was after, the scamp! But I hadn’t the 
heart to refuse. So I’d sit down and write a letter to his Frau 
Mama and beg her to forgive him just that once and send 
some more money. And she always would. ... Of course, 
as a woman, I knew how to appeal to a mother s feelings, 
although I’ve never had any children of my own. . . . What 
are you smiling at, Herr Issyvoo? Well, well! Mistakes will 
happen, you know!” 


"And that s where the Herr Rittmeister always upset his 
coffee over the wall-paper. He used to sit there on the couch 
with his fiancee. ‘Herr Rittmeister/ I used to say to him, ‘do 
please drink your coffee at the table. If youll excuse my say- 
ing so, there s plenty of time for the other thing after- 
wards. . . But no, he always would sit on the couch. And 
then, sure enough, when he began to get a bit excited in his 
feelings, over went the coffee-cups. . . . Such a handsome 
gentleman! His Frau Mama and his sister came to visit us 
sometimes. They liked coming up to Berlin. ‘Fraulein Schroe- 
der,’ they used to tell me, ‘you don’t know how lucky you are 
to be living here, right in the middle of things. We’re only 
country cousins — ^we envy you! And now tell us all the latest 
Court scandals!’ Of course, they were only joking. They 
had the sweetest little house, not far from Halberstadt, in 
the Harz. They used to show me pictures of it. A perfect 

“You see those ink-stains on the carpet? That’s where Herr 
Professor Koch used to shake his fountain-pen. I told him of 
it a hundred times. In the end, I even laid sheets of blotting- 
paper on the floor around his chair. He was so absent- 
minded. . . . Such a dear old gentleman! And so simple. I 
was very fond of him. If I mended a shirt for him or darned 
his socks, he’d thank me with the tears in his eyes. He liked 
a bit of fxm, too. Sometimes, when he heard me coming, he’d 
turn out the light and hide behind the door; and then he’d 
roar like a lion to frighten me. Just like a child. , . 

Frl. Schroeder can go on like this, without repeating her- 
self, by the hour. When I have been listening to her for some 
time, I find myself relapsing into a curious trance-like state 
of depression. I begin to feel profoundly unhappy. Where are 
all those lodgers now? Where, in another ten years, shall I 
be, myself? Certainly not here. How many seas and frontiers 
shJl I have to cross to reach that distant day; how far shall 
I have to travel, on foot, on horseback, by car, push-bike, 
aeroplane, steamer, train, lift, moving-staircase and tram? 
How mu<i money shall I need for that enormous journey? 


How much food must I gradually, wearily consume on my 
way? How many pairs of shoes shall I wear out? How many 
thousands of cigarettes shall I smoke? How many cups of 
tea shall I drink and how many glasses of beer? What an 
awful tasteless prospect! And yet — to have to die. ... A 
sudden vague pang of apprehension grips my bowels and I 
have to excuse myself in order to go to the lavatory. 

Hearing that I was once a medical student, she confides 
to me that she is very unhappy because of the size of her 
bosom. She suffers from palpitations and is sure that these 
must be caused by the strain on her heart. She wonders if she 
should have an operation. Some of her acquaintances advise 
her to, others are against it: 

"Oh dear, it’s such a weight to have to carry about with 
you! And just think — Herr Issyvoo: I used to be as slim as 
you are!” 

“I suppose you had a great many admirers, Frl. Schroe- 

Yes, she has had dozens. But only one Friend. He was a 
married man, living apart from his wife, who would not 
divorce him. 

“We were together eleven years. Then he died of pneu- 
monia. Sometimes I wake up in the night when it’s cold 
and wish he was there. You never seem to get really warm, 
sleeping alone.” 

There are four other lodgers in this flat. Next door to me, 
in the big front-room, is Frl. Kost. In the room opposite, over- 
looking the courtyard, is Frl. Mayr. At the back, beyond 
the living-room, is Bobby. And behind Bobby’s room, over 
the bathroom, at the top of a ladder, is a tiny attic which 
Frl, Schroeder refers to, for some occult reason, as “The 
Swedish Pavilion,” This she lets, at twenty marks a month, 
to a commercial traveller who is out all day and most of 
the night. I occasionally come upon him on Sunday mom- 


ings, in the kitchen, shuffling about in his vest and trousers, 
apologetically hunting for a box of matches. 

Bobby is a mixer at a west-end bar called the Troika. I 
don’t know his real name. He has adopted this one because 
English Christian names are fashionable just now in the 
Berlin demi-monde. He is a pale worried-looking smartly 
dressed young man with thin sleek black hair. During the 
early afternoon, just after he has got out of bed, he walks 
about the flat in shirt-sleeves, wearing a hairnet 

Frl. Schroeder and Bobby are on intimate terms. He tickles 
her and slaps her bottom; she hits him over the head with a 
frying-pan or a mop. The first time I surprised them scuffling 
like this, they were both rather embarrassed. Now they take 
my presence as a matter of course. 

Frl. Kost is a blonde florid girl with large silly blue eyes. 
When we meet, coming to and from the bathroom in our 
dressing-gowns, she modestly avoids my glance. She is plump 
but has a good figure. 

One day I asked Frl. Schroeder straight out: What was 
Frl. Kost’s profession? 

“Profession? Ha, ha, that’s good! That’s just the word for 
it! Oh, yes, she’s got a fine profession. Like this 

And with the air of doing something extremely comic, she 
began waddling across the kitchen like a duck, mincingly 
holding a duster between her finger and thumb. Just by file 
door, she twirled triumphantly round, flourishing the duster 
as though it were a silk handkerchief, and kissed her hand 
to me mockingly: 

“Ja, ja, Herr Issyvoo! That’s how they do it!” 

“I don’t quite understand, Frl. Schroeder. Do you mean 
that she’s a tight-rope walker?” 

“He, he, he! Very good indeed, Herr Issjwoo! Yes, that’s 
right! That’s it! She walks along the line for her living. That 
just describes her!” 

One evening, soon after this, I met Frl. Kost on the stairs, 
with a Japanese. Frl. Schroeder explained to me later that 
he is one of Frl. Kost s best customers. She asked FrL Kost 


how they spent the time together when not actually in bed, 
for the Japanese can speak hardly any German, 

“Oh, well,” said Frl. Kost, “we play the gramophone to- 
gether, you know, and eat chocolates, and then we laugh a 
lot. He’s very fond of laughing. . . 

Frl. Schroeder really quite likes Frl. Kost and certainly 
hasn’t any moral objections to her trade: nevertheless, when 
she is angry because Frl. Kost has broken the spout of the 
teapot or omitted to make crosses for her telephone-calls on 
the slate in the living-room, then invariably she exclaims: 

“But after all, what else can you expect from a woman of 
that sort, a common prostitute! Why, Herr Issyvoo, do you 
know what she used to be? A servant girl! And then she got 
to be on intimate terms with her employer and one fine day, 
of course, she found herself in certain circumstances. . . . 
And when that little difficulty was removed, she had to go 
trot-trot. . . 

Frl. Mayr is a music-hall jodlerin — one of the best, so Frl. 
Schroeder reverently assures me, in the whole of Germany. 
Frl. Schroeder doesn’t altogether like Frl. Mayr, but she 
stands in great awe of her; as well she may. Frl. Mayr has a 
bull-dog jaw, enormous arms and coarse string-coloured hair. 
She speaks a Bavarian dialect with peculiarly aggressive 
emphasis. When at home, she sits up like a war-horse at the 
living-room table, helping Frl. Schroeder to lay cards. They 
are both adept fortune-tellers and neither would dream of 
beginning the day without consulting the omens. The chief 
thing they both want to know at present is: when will Frl. 
Mayr get another engagement? This question interests Frl, 
Scln-oeder quite as much as Frl. Mayr, because Frl. Mayr 
is behind-hand with the rent. 

At the comer of the Motzstrasse, when the weather is fine, 
there stands a shabby pop-eyed man beside a portable canvas 
booth. On the sides of the booth are pinned astrological dia- 
grams and autographed letters of recommendation from sat- 
isfied clients. Frl. Schroeder goes to consult him whenever 
she can afford the mark for his fee. In fact, he plays a most 


important part in her life. Her behaviour towards him is a 
mixture of cajolery and threats. If the good things he promises 
her come true she will kiss him, she says, invite him to dinner, 
buy him a gold watch: if they don’t she will throttle him, box 
his ears, report him to the police. Among other prophecies, 
the astrologer has told her that she will win some money in 
the Prussian State Lottery. So far, she has had no luck. But 
she is always discussing what she will do with her winnings. 
We are all to have presents, of course. I am to get a hat, be- 
cause Frl. Schroeder thinks it very improper that a gentleman 
of my education should go about without one. 

When not engaged in laying cards, Frl. Mayr drinks tea 
and lectures Frl. Schroeder on her past theatrical triumphs: 

"And the Manager said to me: "Fritzi, Heaven must have 
sent you here! My leading lady’s fallen ill. You re to leave for 
Copenhagen to-night.’ And what s more, he wouldn’t take no 
for an answer. ‘Fritzi,’ he said (he always called me tliat), 
‘Fritzi, you aren’t going to let an old friend down?* And so I 
went. . . Frl. Mayr sips her tea reminiscently: “A charm- 
ing man. And so well-bred.” She smiles: "Familiar . . . but 
he always knew how to behave himself.” 

Frl. Schroeder nods eagerly, drinking in every word, revel- 
ling in it: 

"I suppose some of those managers must be cheeky devils? 
(Have some more sausage, Frl. Mayr?)” 

"(Thank you, Frl. Schroeder; just a little morsel.) Yes, 
some of them . . . you wouldn’t believe! But I could always 
take care of myself. Even when I was quite a slip of a 
girl. ...” 

The muscles of Frl. Mayr’s nude fleshy arms ripple un- 
appetisingly. She sticks out her chin: 

"I’m a Bavarian; and a Bavarian never forgets an injury ” 

Coming into the living-room yesterday evening, I found 
Frl. Schroeder and Frl. Mayr lying flat on their stomachs 
with their ears pressed to the carpet At interv^als, they ex- 


changed grins of delight or joyfully pinched each other, with 
simultaneous exclamations of Ssh! 

“Harkl” whispered Frl. Schroeder, ‘Tie^s smashing all the 

"He's beating her black and blue!” exclaimed Frl. Mayr, in 

"Bang! Just listen to that!” 

"Ssh! Ssh!” 


Frl. Schroeder was quite beside herself. When I asked 
what was the matter, she clambered to her feet, waddled for- 
ward and, taking me round the waist, danced a little waltz 
with me: "Herr Issyvoo! Herr Issyvool Herr Issyvool” until 
she was breathless. 

“But whatever has happened?” I asked. 

“Sshl” commanded FrL Mayr from the floor, “Ssh! They've 
started again!” 

In the flat directly beneath ours lives a certain Frau 
Glantemeck. She is a Galician Jewess, in itself a reason why 
Frl. Mayr should be her enemy: for Frl. Mayr, needless to 
say, is an ardent Nazi. And, quite apart from this, it seems 
that Frau Glantemeck and Frl. Mayr once had words on the 
stairs about Frl. Mayr s yodelling. Frau Glantemeck, perhaps 
because she is a non-Aryan, said that she preferred the 
noises made by cats. Thereby, she insulted not merely Frl. 
Mayr, but all Bavarian, all German women: and it was Frl, 
Mayr s pleasant duty to avenge them. 

About a fortnight ago, it became known among the neigh- 
bours that Frau Glantemeck, who is sixty years old and as 
ugly as a witch, had been advertising in the newspaper for 
a husband. What was more, an applicant had already ap- 
peared: a widowed butcher from Halle. He had seen Frau 
Glantemeck and was nevertheless prepared to marry her. 
Here was Frl. Mayr's chance. By roundabout inquiries, she 
discovered the butcher s name and address and wrote him 
an anonymous letter. Was he aware that Frau Glantemeck 
had (a) bugs in her flat, (b) been arrested for fraud and 


released on the ground that she was insane, (o) leased out 
her own bedroom for immoral purposes, and (d) slept in 
the bed afterwards without changing the sheets? And now 
the butcher had arrived to confront Frau Glantemeck with 
the letter. One could hear both of them quite distinctly: the 
growling of the enraged Prussian and the shrill screaming 
of tire Jewess. Now and then came the thud of a fist against 
wood and, occasionally, the crash of glass. The row lasted 
over an hour. 

This morning we hear that the neighbours have com- 
plained to the portress of the disturbance and that Frau 
Glantemeck is to be seen with a black eye. The marriage is 

The inhabitants of this street know me by sight already. 
At the grocer s, people no longer turn their heads on hearing 
my English accent as I order a pound of butter. At the street 
comer, after dark, the three whores no longer whisper throat- 
ily: “Komm, Siisser!” as I pass. 

The three whores are all plainly over fifty years old. They 
do not attempt to conceal their age. They are not noticeably 
rouged or powdered. They wear baggy old fur coats and 
longish skirts and matronly hats. I happened to mention them 
to Bobby and he explained to me that there is a recognized 
demand for the comfortable type of woman- Many middle- 
aged men prefer them to girls. They even attract boys in 
their 'teens. A boy, explained Bobby, feels shy with a girl of 
his own age but not with a woman old enough to be his 
mother. Like most barmen, Bobby is a great expert on sexual 

The other evening, I went to call on him during business 

It was still very early, about nine o'clock, when I arrived 
at the Troika. The place was much larger and grander than 
I had expected. A commissionaire braided like an archduke 
regarded my hatless head with suspicion until I spoke to him 


in English. A smart cloak-room girl insisted on taking my 
overcoat, which hides the worst stains on my baggy flannel 
trousers. A page-boy, seated on the counter, didn’t rise to 
open the inner door. Bobby, to my relief, was at his place 
behind a blue and silver bar. I made towards him as towards 
an old friend. He greeted me most amiably; 

“Good evening, Mr. Isherwood. Very glad to see you here.” 

I ordered a beer and settled myself on a stool in the comer. 
With my back to the wall, I could survey the whole room. 

“Ho’w’s business?” I asked. 

Bobby’s care-worn, powdered, night-dweller’s face be- 
came grave. He inclined his head towards me, over the bar, 
with confidential flattering seriousness: 

“Not much good, Mr. Isherwood. The kind of public we 
have nowadays . . . you wouldn’t believe it! Why, a year 
ago, we’d have turned them away at the door. They order a 
beer and think they’ve got the right to sit here the whole 

Bobfy spoke with extreme bitterness. I began to feel un- 

“What’ll you drink?” I asked, guiltily gulping down my 
beer; and added, lest there should be any misunderstanding: 
“I’d like a whisky and soda.” 

Bobby said he’d have one, too. 

The room was nearly empty. I looked the few guests over, 
trying to see them through Bobby’s disillusioned eyes. There 
were three attractive, well-dressed girls sitting at the bar: 
the one nearest to me was particularly elegant, she had quite 
a cosmopolitan air. But during a lull in the conversation, I 
caught fragments of her talk with the other barman. She 
spoke broad Berlin dialect. She was tired and bored; her 
mouth dropped. A young man approached her and joined in 
the discussion; a handsome broad-shouldered boy in a weU- 
cut dinner-jacket, who might well have been an English 
public-school prefect on holiday. 

“Nee, nee,” I heard him say. “Bei mir nichtr He grinned 
and made a curt, brutal gesture of the streets. 


Over in the comer sat a page-boy, talking to the little old 
lavatory attendant in his white jacket. The boy said some- 
thing, laughed and broke off suddenly into a huge yawn. The 
three musicians on their platform were chatting, evidently 
unwilhng to begin until they had an audience worth playing 
to. At one of the tables, I thought I saw a genuine guest, a 
stout man with a moustache. After a moment, however, I 
caught his eye, he made me a little bow and I loiew that he 
must be the manager. 

The door opened. Two men and two women came in. The 
women were elderly, had thick legs, cropped hair and costly 
evening-gowns. The men were lethargic, pale, probably 
Dutch. Here, unmistakably, was Money. In an instant, the 
Troika was transformed. The manager, ^e cigarette boy and 
the lavatory attendant rose simultaneously to their feet. The 
lavatory attendant disappeared. The manager said something 
in a furious undertone to the cigarette-boy, who also dis- 
appeared. He then advanced, bowing and smiling, to the 
guests’ table and shook hands with the two men. The 
cigarette-boy reappeared with his tray, followed by a waiter 
who hurried forward with the wine-list. Meanwhile, the 
three-man orchestra struck up briskly. The girls at the bar 
turned on their stools, smiling a not-too-direct invitation. The 
gigolos advanced to them as if to complete strangers, bowed 
formally and asked, in cultured tones, for the pleasure of a 
dance. The page-boy, spruce, discreetly grinning, swaying 
from the waist like a flower, crossed the room with his tray 
of cigarettes: ^Zigarren! Zigarettenr His voice was mocking, 
clear-pitched like an actor’s. And in the same tone, yet more 
loudly, mockingly, joyfully, so that we could all hear, the 
waiter ordered from Bobby: “Heidsick Monopol!” 

With absurd, solicitous gravity, the dancers performed 
their intricate evolutions, showing in their every movement 
a consciousness of the part they were playing. And the saxo- 
phonist, letting his instrument swing loose from the ribbon 
around his neck, advanced to the edge of the platform with 
his little megaphone: 


• • • 

Sie werden lachen, 

Ich lieb’ 

Meine eigene Frau. 

He sang with a knowing leer, including us all in the con- 
spiracy, charging his voice with innuendo, rolling his eyes in 
an epileptic pantomime of extreme joy. Bobby, suave, sleek, 
five years younger, handled the bottle. And meanwhile the 
two flaccid gentlemen chatted to each other, probably about 
business, without a glance at the night-life they had called 
into being; while their women sat silent, looking neglected, 
puzzled, uncomfortable and very bored. 

Frl. Hippi Bernstein, my first pupil, lives in the Griinewald, 
in a house built almost entirely of glass. Most of the richest 
Berlin families inhabit the Griinewald. It is diflScult to under- 
stand why. Their villas, in all known styles of expensive 
ugliness, ranging from the eccentric-rococo folly to the cubist 
flat-roofed steel-and-glass box, are crowded together in this 
dank, dreary pinewood. Few of them can afford large gar- 
dens, for the ground is fabulously dear: their only view is 
of their neighbour s backyard, each one protected by a wire 
fence and a savage dog. Terror of burglary and revolution has 
reduced these miserable people to a state of siege. They have 
neither privacy nor sunshine. The district is really a mil- 
lionaire’s slum. 

When I rang the bell at the garden gate, a young footman 
came out with a key from the house, followed by a large 
growling Alsatian. 

“He wont bite you while Tm here,” the footman reassured 
me, grinning. 

The hall of the Bernstein’s house has metal-studded doors 
and a steamer clock fastened to the wall with bolt-heads. 
There are modernist lamps, designed to look like pressure- 
gauges, thermometers and switchboard dials. But the furni- 
ture doesn’t match the house and its fittings. The place is Hke 


a power-station which the engineers have tried to make com- 
fortable with chairs and tables from an old-fashioned, highly 
respectable boarding-house. On the austere metal walls, 
hang highly varnished nineteenth-century landscapes in mas- 
sive gold frames. Herr Bernstein probably ordered the villa 
from a popular avant-garde architect in a moment of reck- 
lessness; was horrified at the result and tried to cover it up 
as much as possible with the family belongings. 

Frl. Hippi is a fat pretty girl, about nineteen years old, 
with glossy chestnut hair, good teeth and big cow-eyes. She 
has a la2y, jolly, self-indulgent laugh and a well-formed bust. 
She speaks schoolgirl English with a slight American accent, 
quite nicely, to her own complete satisfaction. She has clearly 
no intention of doing any work. When I tried weakly to sug- 
gest a plan for our lessons, she kept interrupting to offer me 
chocolates, coffee, cigarettes: “Excuse me a minute, there 
isn’t some fruit,” she smiled, picking up the receiver of the 
house-telephone: “Anna, please bring some oranges.” 

When the maid arrived with the oranges, I was forced, 
despite my protests, to make a regular meal, with a plate, 
knife and fork. This destroyed the last pretence of the 
teacher-pupil relationsliip. I felt like a policeman being given 
a meal in the kitchen by an attractive cook. Frl. Hippi sat 
watching me eat, with her good-natured, lazy smile: 

“Tell me, please, why you come to Germany?” 

She is inquisitive about me, but only like a cow idly 
poking with its head between the bars of a gate. She doesn’t 
particularly want the gate to open. I said that I foimd Ger- 
many very interesting: 

“The political and economic situation,” I improvised au- 
thoritatively, in my schoolmaster voice, “is more interesting 
in Germany than in any other European country^” 

“Except Russia, of course,” I added experimentally. 

But Frl. Hippi didn’t react. She just blandly smiled: 

“I think it shall be dull for you here? You do not have 
many friends in Berlin, no?” 

“No. Not many” 


This seemed to please and amuse her: 

"You don t know some nice girls?"' 

Here the buzzer of the house-telephone sounded. Lazily 
smiling, she picked up tlie receiver, but appeared not to 
listen to the tinny voice which issued from it. I could hear 
quite distinctly the real voice of Frau Bernstein, Hippi's 
mother, speaking from the next room. 

“Have you left your red book in here?" repeated Frl. Hippi 
mockingly and smiling at me as though this were a joke 
which I must share: "No, I don't see it. It must be down in 
the study. Ring up Daddy. Yes, he's working there." In dumb 
show, she offered me another orange. I shook my head 
politely. We both smiled: "Mummy, what have we got for 
lunch to-day? Yes? Really? Splendid!” 

She hung up the receiver and returned to her cross- 

“Do you not know no nice girls?” 

“Any nice girls. ...” I corrected evasively. But Frl. Hippi 
merely smiled, waiting for the answ^er to her question. 

“Yes. One," I had at length to add, thinking of Frl. Kost. 

"Only one?" She raised her eyebrows in comic surprise. 
“And tell me please, do you find German girls different than 
English girls?" 

I blushed. "Do you find German girls ...” I began to 
correct her and stopped, realizing just in time that I wasn't 
absolutely sure whether one says different from or different 

“Do you find German girls different than English girls?” 
she repeated, with smiling persistence. 

I blushed deeper than ever. "Yes. Very different,” I said 

“How are they different?” 

Mercifully the telephone buzzed again. This was some- 
body from the kitchen, to say that lunch would be an hour 
earlier than usual. Herr Bernstein was going to the city that 

“I am so sorry,” said Frl. Hippi, rising, “but for to-day we 


must finish. And we shall see us again on Friday? Then 
good-bye, Mr. Isherwood. And I thank you very much.” 

She fished in her bag and handed me an envelope which 
I stuck awkwardly into my pocket and tore open only when 
I was out of sight of the Bernsteins’ house. It contained a 
five-mark piece. I threw it into the air, missed it, found it 
after five minutes’ hunt, buried in sand, and ran all the way to 
the tram-stop, singing and kicking stones about the road. I 
felt extraordinarily guilty and elated, as though Td success- 
fully committed a small theft. 

It is a mere waste of time even pretending to teach FrI. 
Hippi anything. If she doesn’t know a word, she says it in 
German. If I correct her, she repeats it in German. I am glad, 
of course, that she’s so lazy and only afraid that Frau Bern- 
stein may discover how little progress her daughter is making. 
But this is very unlikely. Most rich people, once they have 
decided to trust you at all, can be imposed upon to almost any 
extent. The only real problem for the private tutor is to get 
inside the front-door. 

As for Hippi, she seems to enjoy my visits. From something 
she said the other day, I gather she boasts to her school 
friends that she has got a genuine English teacher. We under- 
stand each other very well. I am bribed with fruit not to be 
tiresome about the English language: she, for her part, tells 
her parents that I am the best teacher she ever had. We gos- 
sip in German about the things which interest her. And every 
three or four m'nutes, we are interrupted while she plays her 
part in the family game of exchanging entirely unimportant 
messages over the house-telephone. 

Hippi never worries about the future. Like everyone else 
in Berlin, she refers continually to the political situation, but 
only briefly, with a conventional melancholy, as when one 
speaks of religion. It is quite unreal to her. She means to go 
to the university, travel about, have a jolly good time and 
eventually, of course, many. She already has a great many 


boy friends. We spend a lot of time talking about them. One 
has a wonderful car. Another has an aeroplane. Another has 
fought seven duels. Another has discovered a knack of putting 
out streetlamps by giving them a smart kick in a certain spot. 
One night, on the way back from a dance, Hippi and he put 
out all the street-lamps in the neighbourhood. 

To-day, lunch was early at the Bernsteins*; so I was invited 
to it, instead of giving my ‘lesson.” The whole family was 
present; Frau Bernstein, stout and placid; Herr Bernstein, 
small and shaky and sly. There was also a younger sister, a 
schoolgirl of twelve, very fat. She ate and ate, quite unmoved 
by Hippf s jokes and warnings that she’d burst. They all seem 
very fond of each other, in their cosy, stuffy way. There was 
a little domestic argument, because Herr Bernstein didn’t 
want his wife to go shopping in the car that afternoon. Dur- 
ing the last few days, there has been a lot of Nazi rioting In 
the city. 

‘‘You can go in the tram,” said Herr Bernstein. “I will not 
have them titirowing stones at my beautiful car.” 

“And suppose they throw stones at me?” asked Frau Bern- 
stein good-humouredly. 

“Ach, what does that matter? If they throw stones at you, 
I will buy you a sticking-plaster for your head. It will cost me 
only five groschen. But if they throw stones at my car, it wiU 
cost me perhaps five hundred marks.” 

And so the matter was settled. Herr Bernstein then turned 
his attention to me: 

“You can’t complain that we treat you badly here, young 
man, eh? Not only do we give you a nice dinner, but we pay 
for you eating it!” 

I saw from Hippi’s expression that this was going a bit far, 
even for the Bernstein sense of humour; so I laughed and 

“Will you pay me a mark extra for every helping I eat?^ 


This amused Herr Bernstein very much; but he was care- 
ful to show that he knew I hadn’t meant it seriously. 

During the last week, our household has been plunged into 
a terrific row. 

It began when Frl. Kost came to Frl. Schroeder and an- 
nounced that fifty marks had been stolen from her room. She 
was very much upset; especially, she explained, as this was 
the money she’d put aside towards the rent and the telephone 
bill. The fifty-mark note had been lying in the drawer of the 
cupboard, just inside the door of Frl. Kost’s room. 

Frl. Schroeder’s immediate suggestion was, not unnatu- 
rally, that the money had been stolen by one of Frl. Kost s 
customers. Frl. Kost said that this was quite impossible, as 
none of them had \isited her during the last three days. 
Moreover, she added, her friends were all absolutely above 
suspicion. They were well-to-do gentlemen, to whom a 
miserable fifty-mark note was a mere bagatelle. This an- 
noyed Frl. Schroeder veiy^ much indeed: 

“I suppose she’s trying to make out that one of tis did it! 
Of all the cheek! Why, Herr Issyvoo, will you believe me, I 
could have chopped her into little pieces!” 

“Yes, Frl. Schroeder. I’m sure you could.” 

Frl. Schroeder then developed the theory that the money 
hadn’t been stolen at all and that this was just a trick of Frl. 
Kost’s to avoid paying the rent. She hinted so much to Frl. 
Kost, who was furious. Frl. Kost said that, in any case, she’d 
raise the money in a few days: which she already has. She 
also gave notice to leave her room at the end of the month. 

Meanwhile, I have discovered, quite by accident, that Frl. 
Kost has been having an aflPair with Bobby. As I came in, one 
evening, I happened to notice that there was no light in Frl. 
Kosts room. You can always see this, because there is a 
frosted glass pane in her door to light the hall of the flat 
Later, as I lay in bed reading, I heard FrL Kost’s door open 


and Bobby’s voice, laughing and whispering. After much 
creaking of boards and muffled laughter, Bobby tiptoed out 
of the flat, shutting the door as quietly as possible behind him. 
A moment later, he re-entered with a great deal of noise and 
went straight through into the living-room, where I heard 
him wishing Frl. Schroeder good-night. 

If Frl. Schroeder doesn’t actually Imow of this, she at least 
suspects it. This explains her fury against Frl. Kost: for the 
truth is, she is terribly jealous. The most grotesque and em- 
barrassing incidents have been taking place. One morning, 
when I wanted to visit the bathroom, Frl. Kost was using it 
already. Frl. Schroeder rushed to the door before I could 
stop her and ordered Frl. Kost to come out at once: and 
when Frl. Kost naturally didn’t obey, Frl. Schroeder began, 
despite my protests, hammering on the door with her fists. 
^‘Come out of my bathroom!” she screamed. “Come out this 
minute, or I’ll call the police to fetch you out!” 

After this she burst into tears. The crying brought on 
palpitations. Bobby had to carry her to ihe sofa, gasping 
and sobbing. While we were all standing round, rather help- 
less, Frl. Mayr appeared in the doorway with a face like a 
hangman and said, in a terrible voice, to Frl. Kost: “Think 
yourself lucky, my girl, if you haven’t murdered her!” She 
then took complete charge of the situation, ordered us all 
out of the room and sent me down to the grocer s for a bottle 
of Baldrian Drops, When I returned, she was seated beside 
the sofa, stroking Frl. Schroeder s hand and murmuring, in 
her most tragic tones: “Lina, my poor little child . . . what 
have they done to you?” 



One afternoon, early in October, I was invited to black 
coflcee at Fritz Wendels flat. Fritz always invited you to 
*black coffee,” with emphasis on the black. He was ver\' proud 
of his coffee. People used to say that it was the strongest in 

Fritz himself was dressed in his usual coffee-party costume 
— a very thick white yachting sweater and \’ery light blue 
flannel trousers. He greeted me with his full-lipped, luscious 

"lo, Chris!” 

“Hullo, Fritz. How are you?” 

“Fine.” He bent over the coffee-machine, his sleek black 
hair unplastering itself from his scalp and falling in richly 
scented locks over his eyes. “This darn thing doesn’t go,” he 

“How’s business?” I asked. 

“Lousy and terrible.” Fritz grinned richly. “Or I pull off a 
new deal in the next month or I go as a gigolo ” 

“Either . . . or . . . I corrected, from force of profes- 
sional habit. 

“Tm speaking a lousy English just now,” drawled Fritz, 
with great self-satisfaction. “Sally says maybe shell give me 
a few lessons.” 

‘Who’s SaUy?” 

“Why, I forgot. You don’t know Sally. Too bad of me. 
Eventually she’s coming around here this afternoon.” 

“Is she nice?” 

Fritz rolled his naughty black eyes, handing me a rum- 
moistened cigarette from his patent tin: 


*"Mflr-vellous!’’ he drawled. “Eventually I believe I m get- 
ting crazy about her.” 

“And who is she? What does she do?"" 

“She"s an English girl, an actress: sings at the Lady Win- 
dermere — ^hot stufF, believe me!” 

“That doesn’t sound much like an English girl, I must 
_ » 

“Eventually she’s got a bit of French in her. Her mother 
was French.” 

A few minutes later, Sally herself arrived. 

“Am I terribly late, Fritz darling?” 

“Only half of an hour, I suppose,” Fritz drawled, beaming 
with proprietaiy pleasure. “May I introduce Mr. Isherwood 
— Miss Bowles? Mr. Isherwood is commonly known as Chris.” 

“I’m not,” I said. “Fritz is about the only person who’s 
ever called me Chris in my life.” 

Sally laughed. She was dressed in black silk, with a small 
cape over her shoulders and a little cap like a page-boy’s 
stuck jauntily on one side of her head: 

“Do you mind if I use your telephone, sweet?” 

“Sure. Go right ahead,” Fritz caught my eye. “Come into 
the other room, Chris. I want to show you something,” He 
was evidently longing to hear my first impressions of Sally, 
his new acquisition. 

“For heaven’s sake, don’t leave me alone with this man!” 
she exclaimed. “Or he’ll seduce me down the telephone. He’s 
most terribly passionate.” 

As she dialled the number, I noticed that her finger-nails 
were painted emerald green, a colour unfortunately chosen, 
for it called attention to her hands, which were much stained 
by cigarette-smoking and as dirty as a little girl’s. She was 
dark enough to be Fritz’s sister. Her face was long and thin, 
powdered dead white. She had very large brown eyes which 
should have been darker, to match her hair and the pencil 
she used for her eyebrow^s. 

“Hilloo,” she cooed, pursing her brilliant cherry lips as 
though she were going to kiss the mouthpiece: “1st dass Du, 


mein Liebling?” Her mouth opened in a fatuously sweet 
smile. Fritz and I sat watching her, like a performance at the 
theatre. "Was wollen wir machen. Morgen Abend? Oh, wie 
wunderbar. . . . Nein, nein, ich werde bleiben Heute Abend 
zu Hause. Ja, ja, ich werde wirklich bleiben zu Hause. . . . 
Auf Wiedersehen, mein Liebling . . 

She hung up the receiver and turned to us triumphantly. 

"That s the man I slept with last night,” she announced. 
"He makes love marvellously. He’s an absolute genius at 
business and he’s terribly rich — She came and sat down on 
the sofa beside Fritz, sinking back into the cushions with 
a sigh: "Give me some coffee, will you, darling? I’m simply 
dying of thirst.” 

And soon we were on to Fritz’s favourite topic: he pro- 
nounced it Larve. 

“On the average,” he told us, "I’m having a big affair every 
two years.” 

"And how long is it since you had your last?” Sally asked. 

“Exactly one year and eleven months!” Fritz gave her his 
naughtiest glance. 

"How marvellous!” Sally puckered up her nose and laughed 
a silvery little stage-laugh: "Doo tell me — what was the last 
one like?” 

This, of course, started Fritz off on a complete autobiog- 
raphy. We had the story of his seduction in Paris, details of 
a holiday flirtation at Las Palmas, the four chief New York 
romances, a disappointment in Chicago and a conquest in 
Boston; tiien back to Paris for a little recreation, a very 
beautiful episode in Vienna, to London to be consoled and, 
finally, Berlin. 

"You know, Fritz darling,” said Sally, puckering up her 
nose at me, 1 believe the trouble with you is that you’ve 
never really found the right woman.” 

"Maybe that’s true — Fritz took this idea very seriously. 
His black eyes became liquid and sentimental: “Maybe I’m 
still looking for my ideal. . . 

"But you’ll find her one day. I’m absolutely certain you 


will ” Sally included me, with a glance, in the game of laugh- 
ing at Fritz. 

‘‘You think so?” Fritz grinned lusciously, sparkling at her. 

“Don t you think so?” Sally appealed to me. 

“Fm sure I don t know,” I said. “Because IVe never been 
able to discover what Fritz’s ideal is.” 

For some reason, this seemed to please Fritz. He took it 
as a kind of testimonial: “And Chris knows me pretty well,” 
he chimed in. “If Chris doesn’t know, well, I guess no one 

Then it was time for Sally to go. 

“I’m supposed to meet a man at the Adlon at five,” she 
explained. “And it’s six already! Never mind, it’ll do the old good to wait. He wants me to be his mistress, but I’ve 
told him I’m damned if I will till he’s paid all my debts. Why 
are men always such beasts?” Opening her bag, she rapidly 
retouched her lips and eyebrows: “Oh, by the way, Fritz 
darling, could you be a perfect angel and lend me ten marks? 
I haven’t got a bean for a taxi.” 

“Why sure!” Fritz put his hand into his pocket and paid 
up without hesitation, like a hero. 

Sally turned to me: “I say, will you come and have tea 
with me sometime? Give me your telephone number. I’ll 
ring you up.” 

I suppose, I thought, she imagines I’ve got cash. Well, this 
will be a lesson to her, once for all. I wrote my number in 
her tiny leather book, Fritz saw her out. 

“Well!” he came bounding back into the room and glee- 
fully shut the door: “What do you think of her, Chris? Didn’t 
I tell you she was a goodlooker?” 

“You did indeed!” 

“I’m getting crazier about her each time I see her!” With 
a sigh of pleasure, he helped himself to a cigarette; “More 
coffee, Chris?” 

“No, thank you very much.” 

“You know, Chris, I think she took a fancy to you, too!” 

“Oh, rot!” 


“Honestly, I do!’’ Fritz seemed pleased. “Eventually I 
guess we’ll be seeing a lot of her from now on!” 

When I got back to FrL Schroeder’s, I felt so giddy that 
I had to lie down for half an hour on my bed. Fritz’s black 
coffee was as poisonous as ever. 

A few days later, he took me to hear Sally sing. 

The Lady Windermere (which now, I hear, no longer 
exists) was an arty “informaF bar, just off the Tauentzien- 
strasse, which the proprietor had evidently tried to make 
look as much as possible like Montparnasse. The walls were 
covered with sketches on menu-car^, caricatures and signed 
theatrical photographs — (“To the one and only Lady Win- 
dermere.” “To Johnny, with all my heart.”) The Fan itself, 
four times life size, was displayed above the bar. There was 
a big piano on a platform in the middle of the room. 

I was curious to see how Sally would behave. I had im- 
agined her, for some reason, rather ner\^ous, but she wasn’t, 
in the least. She had a surprisingly deep husky voice. She 
sang badly, without any expression, her hands hanging down 
at her sides — ^yet her performance was, in its own way, effec- 
tive because of her startling appearance and her air of not 
caring a curse what people thought of her. Her arms hanging 
carelessly limp, and a t^e-it-or-leave-it grin on her face, she 

Now I know why Mother 
Told me to be true; 

She meant me for Someone 
Exactly like you. 

There was quite a lot of applause. The pianist, a handsome 
young man with blond wavy hair, stood up and solemnly 
kissed Sally’s hand. Then she sang two more songs, one in 
French and the other in German. These weren’t so well 

After the singing, there was a good deal more hand-kissing 


and a general movement towards the bar. Sally seemed to 
know everybody in the place. She called them all Thou and 
Darling. For a would-be demi-mondaine, she seemed to have 
surprisingly little business sense or tact. She wasted a lot of 
time making advances to an elderly gentleman who would 
obviously have preferred a chat with the barman. Later, we 
all got rather dmnk. Then Sally had to go oflF to an appoint- 
ment, and the manager came and sat at our table. He and 
Fritz talked English Peerage. Fritz was in his element. I 
decided, as so often before, never to visit a place of this sort 

Then Sally rang up, as she had promised, to invite me to 

She lived a long way down the Kurfiirstendamm on the 
last dreary stretch which rises to Halensee. I was shown into 
a big gloomy half -furnished room by a fat untidy landlady 
with a pouchy sagging jowl like a toad. There was a broken- 
down sofa in one comer and a faded picture of an eighteenth- 
century battle, with the wounded reclining on their elbows 
in graceful attitudes, admiring the prancings of Frederick 
the Great’s horse. 

‘"Oh, hullo, Chris darling!” cried Sally from the doorway. 
“How sweet of you to come! I was feeling most terribly 
lonely. Tve been crying on Frau Karpf s chest. Nicht wahr, 
Frau Karpf?” She appealed to the toad landlady, “ich habe 
geweint auf Dein Bmst.” Frau Karpf shook her bosom in a 
toad-like chuckle, 

“Would you rather have coffee, Chris, or tea?” Sally con- 
tinued. “You can have either. Only I don’t recommend the 
tea much. I don’t know what Frau Karpf does to it; I think 
she empties all the kitchen slops together into a jug and boils 
them up with the tea-leaves.” 

*T11 have coffee, then.” 

“Frau Karpf, Leibling, willst Du sein ein Engel und bring 
zwei Tassen von Kaffee?” Sally’s German was not merely 


incorrect; it was all her own. She pronounced every word 
in a mincing, specially “foreign" manner. You could tell that 
she was speaking a foreign language from her expression 
alone. “Chixis darhng, will you be an angel and draw the cur- 

I did so, although it was still quite light outside. Sally, 
meanwhile, had switched on the table-lamp. As I turned from 
the window, she curled herself up delicately on the sofa like 
a cat, and, opening her bag, felt for a cigarette. But hardly 
was the pose complete before shed jumped to her feet again: 

“Would you like a Prairie Oj^sterr' She produced glasses, 
eggs and a bottle of Worcester sauce from the boot-cupboard 
under the dismantled washstand: “I practically live on them." 
Dexterously, she broke the eggs into the glasses, added the 
sauce and stirred up the mixture with the end of a fountain- 
pen: “They’re about all I can afford." She was back on the 
sofa again, daintily curled up. 

She was wearing the same black dress to-day, but without 
the cape. Instead, she had a little white collar and white 
cuffs. They produced a kind of theatrically chaste effect, like 
a nun in grand opera. “What are you laughing at, Chris?” 
she asked. 

“I don’t know,” I said. But still I couldn’t stop grinning. 
There was, at that moment, something so extraordinarily 
comic in Sally’s appearance. She was really beautiful, with 
her little dark head, big eyes and finely arched nose — and so 
absurdly conscious of all these features. There she lay, as 
complacently feminine as a turtle-dove, with her poised self- 
conscious head and daintily arranged hands. 

“Chris, you swine, do tell me why you’re laughing?" 

“I really haven’t the faintest idea." 

At this, she began to laugh, too: “You are mad, you know!" 

“Have you been here long?” I asked, looking roimd the 
large gloomy room. 

“Ever since I arrived in Berlin. Let’s see— that was about 
two months ago." 

I asked what had made her decide to come out to Ger^ 


many at all. Had she come alone? No, she’d come with a girl 
friend. An actress. Older than Sally. The girl had been to 
Berlin before. She’d told Sally that they’d certainly be able 
to get work with the Ufa. So Sally borrowed ten pounds from 
a nice old gentleman and joined her. 

She hadn't told her parents anything about it until the two 
of them had actually arrived in Germany: ‘1 wish you’d met 
Diana. She was the most marvellous gold-digger you can 
imagine. She’d get hold of men anywhere — it didn’t matter 
whether she could speak their language or not. She made me 
nearly die of laughing. I absolutely adored her.” 

But when they’d been together in Berlin three weeks and 
no job had appeared, Diana had got hold of a banker, who’d 
taken her oft with him to Paris. 

“And left you here alone? I must say I think that was pretty 
rotten of her.” 

“Oh, I don’t know. . . . Everyone’s got to look after them- 
selves. I expect, in her place. I’d have done the same.” 

“I bet you wouldn’t!” 

“Anyhow, I’m all right. I can always get along alone.” 

“How old are you, Sally?” 


“Good God! And I thought you were about twenty-fivel” 

“I know. Eveiyone does.” 

Frau Karpf came shuffling in with two cups of coffee on 
a tarnished metal tray. 

“Oh, Frau Karpf, LeibHng, wie wunderbar von Diehl” 

“Whatever makes you stay in this house?” I asked, when 
the landlady had gone out: “I’m sure you could get a much 
nicer room than this.” 

“Yes, I know 1 could.” 

“Well then, why don’t you?” 

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m lazy, I suppose.” 

“What do you have to pay here?” 

“Eighty marks a month.” 

“W^ith breakfast included?” 

“No — ^I don’t think so.” 


"You don t think soT* I exclaimed severely. "But surely 
you must know for certain?’' 

Sally took this meekly: "Yes, it’s stupid of me, I suppose. 
But, you see, I just give the old girl money when IVe got 
some. So it’s rather difficult to reckon it all up exactly.” 

"But, good heavens, Sally — I only pay fifty a month for 
my room, with breakfast, and it’s ever so much nicer than 
this one!” 

Sally nodded, but continued apologetically: "And another 
thing is, you see, Christopher darling, I don’t quite know 
what Frau Karpf would do if I were to leave her. I’m sure 
she’d never get another lodger. Nobody else would be able 
to stand her face and her smell and ever\*thmg. As it is, she 
owes three months’ rent. They’d turn her out at once if they 
knew she hadn’t any lodgers: and if they do that, she says 
she’ll commit suicide.” 

"All the same, I don’t see why you should sacrifice your- 
self for her.” 

"I’m not sacrificing myself, really. I quite Hke being here, 
you know. Frau Karpf and I understand each other. She’s 
more or less what I’ll be in thirty years’ time. A respecta- 
ble sort of landlady would probably turn me out after a 

"My landlady wouldn’t turn you out.” 

Sally smiled vaguely, screwing up her nose: “How do you 
like the coffee, Chris darling?” 

"I prefer it to Fritz’s,” I said evasively. 

Sally laughed: "Isn’t Fritz marvellous? I adore him. I 
adore the way he says, T give a damn.’ ” 

" ‘Hell, I give a damn.’ ” I tried to imitate Fritz. We both 
laughed. Sally lit another cigarette: she smoked the whole 
time. I noticed how old her hands looked in the lamplight. 
They were nerv’ous, veined and very thin — the hands of a 
middle-aged woman. The green finger-nails seemed not to 
belong to them at all; to have settled on them by chance. — 
like hard, bright, ugly little beetles. “It’s a funny tiling,” she 
added meditatively, "Fritz and I have never slept together, 


you know.” She paused, asked with interest: “Did you think 
we had?” 

“Well, yes — suppose I did.” 

“We haven't. Not once . • she yawned. “And now I 
don't suppose we ever shall.” 

We smoked for some minutes in silence. Then Sally be- 
gan to tell me about her family. She was the daughter of a 
Lancashire mill-owner. Her mother was a Miss Bowles, an 
heiress with an estate, and so, when she and Mr. Jackson 
were married, they joined their names together: “Daddy's 
a terrible snob, although he pretends not to be. My real 
name's Jackson-Bowles; but, of course, I can't possibly call 
myself that on the stage. People would think I was crazy ” 

“I thought Fritz told me your mother was French?” 

“No, of course not!” Sally seemed quite annoyed. “Fritz 
is an idiot. He's always inventing things.” 

Sally had one sister, named Betty. “She's an absolute angel. 
I adore her. She's seventeen, but she's still most terribly in- 
nocent. Mummy's bringing her up to be very county. Betty 
would nearly die if she knew what an old whore I am. She 
knows absolutely nothing whatever about men.” 

“But why aren't you county, too, Sally?” 

“I don't know. I suppose that's Daddy's side of the family 
coming out. You'd love Daddy. He doesn't care a damn for 
anyone. He's the most marvellous business man. And about 
once a month he gets absolutely dead tight and horrifies all 
Mummy's smart friends. It was he who said I could go to 
London and learn acting.” 

"Tou must have left school very young?” 

“Yes. I couldn't bear school. I got myself expelled.” 

“However did you do that?” 

“I told the headmistress I was going to have a baby,” 

“Oh, rot, Sally, you didn't!” 

“I did, honestly! There was the most terrible commotion. 
They got a doctor to examine me, and sent for my parents. 
When they found out there was nothing the matter, they 
were most frightfully disappointed. The headmistress said 


that a girl who could even think of anjthing so disgusting 
couldn't possibly be allowed to stay on and corrupt the other 
girls. So I got my own way. And ihen I pestered Daddy till 
he said I might go to London.'’ 

Sally had settled down in London, at a hostel, with other 
girl students. There, in spite of supervision, she had managed 
to spend large portions of the night at young mens fiats: 
‘TThe first man who seduced me had no idea I was a virgin 
until I told him afterwards. He was marv’ellous. I adored him. 
He was an absolute genius at comedy parts. He’s sure to be 
terribly famous, one day.” 

After a time, Sally had got crowd-work in films, and finally 
a small part in a touring company. Then she had met Diana. 

"And how much longer shall you stay in Berlin?” I asked. 

"Heaven knows. This job at the Lady Windermere only 
lasts another week. I got it through a man I met at the Eden 
Bar. But he’s gone off to Vienna now. I must ring up the Ufa 
people again, I suppose. And then there’s an awfful old Jew 
who takes me out sometimes. He’s always promising to get 
me a contract; but he only wants to sleep with me, the old 
swine. I think the men in this country are awful. They’ve 
none of them got any money, and they expect you to let them 
seduce you if they give you a box of chocolates.” 

"How on earth are you going to manage when this job 
comes to an end?” 

"Oh well, I get a small allowance from home, you know. 
Not that that’ll last much longer. Mununy’s already threat- 
ened to stop it if I don’t come back to England soon. . . . 
Of course, they think I’m here with a girl friend. If Mummy 
knew I was on my ovm, she’d simply pass right out. Anyhow, 
I’ll get enough to support myselJF somehow, soon. I loathe 
taking money from them. Daddy’s business is in a frightfully 
bad way now, from the slump.” 

“I say, Sally — if you ever really get into a mess I wish you’d 
let me know ” 

SaUy laughed: "That’s terribly sweet of you, Chris. But I 
don’t sponge on my friends ” 


“Isn’t Fritz your friend?” It had jumped out of my mouth. 
But Sally didn’t seem to mind a bit. 

“Oh yes. I’m awfully fond of Fritz, of course. But he’s got 
pots or cash. Somehow, when people have cash, you feel 
diSerently about them — I don’t know why.” 

“And how do you know I haven’t got pots of cash, too?” 

“You?” Sally burst out laughing. “Why, I knew you were 
hard-up the first moment I set eyes on you!” 

The afternoon Sally came to tea with me, Frl. Schroeder 
was beside herself with excitement. She put on her best 
dress for the occasion and waved her hair. When the door- 
bell rang, she threw open the door with a flourish: “Herr 
Iss)woo,” she announced, winking knowingly at me and 
speaking very loud, “there’s a lady to see you!” 

I then formally introduced Sally and Frl. Schroeder to 
each other. Frl. Schroeder was overflowing with politeness: 
she addressed Sally repeatedly as “Gnadiges Fraulein.” Sally, 
with her page-boy cap stuck over one ear, laughed her 
silvery laugh and sat down elegantly on the sofa. Frl. 
Schroeder hovered about her in unfeigned admiration and 
amazement. She had evidently never seen anyone like Sally 
before. When she brought in the tea there were, in place of 
tiie usual little chunks of pale unappetising pastry, a plate- 
ful of jam tarts arranged in the shape of a star. I noticed 
also that Frl. Schroeder had provided us with two tiny paper 
serviettes, perforated at the edges to resemble lace. (When, 
later, I complimented her on these preparations, she told 
me that she had always used the serviettes when the Herr 
Rittmeister had had his fiancee to tea. “Oh, yes, Herr Issyvoo. 
You can depend on me! I know what pleases a young lady!”) 

“Do you mind if I lie down on your sofa, darling?” SaUy 
asked, as soon as we were alone. 

“No, of course not.” 

SaUy puUed off her cap, swung her little velvet shoes up 
on to the sofa, opened her bag and began powdering: “I’m 


most terribly tired. I didn’t sleep a wink last night. IVe got a 
mai-\^ellous new lover.” 

I began to put out the tea. Sally gave me a sidelong glance: 

“Do I shock you when I talk like that, Christopher darling?” 

“Not in the least.” 

“But you don’t like it?” 

“It’s no business of mine.” I handed her the tea-glass. 

“Oh, for Gods sake,” cried Sally, “don’t start being English! 
Of course it’s your business what you think!” 

“Well then, if you want to know, it rather bores me.” 

This annoyed her even more than I had intended. Her tone 
changed: she said coldly: “I thought you’d understand.” She 
sighed: “But I forgot — you’re a man.” 

“I’m sorry, Sally. I can’t help being a man, of course. . . . 
But please don’t be angry with me. I only meant that when 
you talk like that it’s really just nervousness. You’re naturally 
rather shy with strangers, I think: so you’ve got into this 
trick of trying to bounce them into approving or disapproving 
of you, violently. I know, because I try it myself, sometimes. 
. . . Only I wish you wouldn’t try it on me, because it just 
doesn’t work and it only makes me feel embarrassed. If you 
go to bed with every single man in Berlin and come and tell 
me about it each time, you still won’t convince me that you’re 
La Dame aux C amelias — because, really and truly, you know, 
you aren’t.” 

“No ... I suppose I’m not — Sally's voice was carefully 
impersonal. She was beginning to enjoy this conversation. I 
had succeed in flattering her in some new way: “Then what 
am I, exactly, Christopher darling?” 

“You’re the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jackson-Bowles ” 

Sally sipped her tea: “Yes ... I think I see what you 
mean. . . . Perhaps you’re right . . . Then you think I 
ought to give up having lovers altogether?” 

“Certainly I don’t As long as you’re sure you’re really 
enjoying yourself.” 

“Of course,” said Sally gravely, after a pause, “Fd never let 
love interfere with my work. Work comes before everything. 


. . , But I don’t believe that a woman can be a great actress 
who hasn’t had any love-affairs — she broke off suddenly: 
‘What are you laughing at, Chris?” 

“I’m not laughing.” 

“You’re always laughing at me. Do you think I’m the most 
ghastly idiot?” 

“No, Sally. I don’t think you’re an idiot at all. It’s quite true, 
I tvas laughing. People I Like often make me want to laugh 
at them. I don’t know why.” 

“Then you do like me, Christopher darling?” 

“Yes, of course I like you, Sally. What did you think?” 

“But you’re not in love with me, are you?” 

“No. I’m not in love with you.” 

“I’m awfully glad. I’ve wanted you to like me ever since 
we first met. But I’m glad you’re not in love with me, be- 
cause, somehow, I couldn’t possibly be in love with you — so, 
if you had been, everything would have been spoilt.” 

“Well then, that’s very lucky, isn’t it?” 

“Yes, very . . .” Sally hesitated. “There’s something I want 
to confess to you, Chris darling. . . . I’m not sure if you’ll 
understand or not.” 

“Remember, I’m only a man, Sally.” 

Sally laughed: “It’s the most idiotic little thing. But some- 
how, I’d hate it if you found out without my telling you. . . . 
You know, the other day, you said Fritz had told you my 
mother was French?” 

“Yes, I remember.” 

“And I said he must have invented it? Well, he hadn’t 
. . . You see. I’d told him she was.” 

“But why on earth did you do that?” 

We both began to laugh. “Goodness knows,” said SaBy. “I 
suppose I wanted to impress him.” 

“But what is there impressive in having a French mother?” 

“I’m a bit mad like that sometimes, Chris. You must be 
patient with me.” 

“All right, Sally, I’ll be patient” 


“And youll swear on your honour not to tell Fritz?*' 

«T » 

I swear. 

“If you do, you swine ” exclaimed Sally, laughing and pick- 
ing up the paper-knife dagger from my writing-table, “111 
cut your throat!” 

Afterwards, I asked Frl. Schroeder what she'd thought of 
Sally. She was in raptures: “Like a picture, Herr Issyvool 
And so elegant: such beautiful han^ and feet! One can 
see that she belongs to the very best societ)^ . . . You know, 
Herr Issyvoo, I should never have expected you to have a 
lady friend like that! You always seem so quiet. . . 

“Ah, well, Frl. Schroeder, it*s often the quiet ones — 

She went off into her little scream of laughter, swaying 
backw^ards and forwards on her short legs: 

“Quite right, Herr Issyvoo! Quite right!” 

On New Year s Eve, Sally came to live at Frl. Schroeder's. 

It had all been arranged at the last moment. Sally, her 
suspicions sharpened by my repeated w^amings, had caught 
out Frau Karpf in a particularly gross and clumsy piece of 
swindling. So she had hardened her heart and given notice. 
She was to have Frl. Kost s old room. Frl. Schroeder was, of 
course, enchanted. 

We all had our Sylvester Abend dinner at home: Frl. 
Schroeder, Frl. Mayr, Sally, Bobby, a mixer colleague from 
the Troika and myself. It w’as a great success. Bobby, already 
restored to favour, flirted daringly with Frl. Schroeder, Frl. 
Mayr and Sally, talking as one great artiste to another, dis- 
cussed the possibilities of music-hall work in England. Sally 
told some really startling lies, which she obviously for the 
moment half-believed, about how she'd appeared at the Pal- 
ladium and the London Coliseum. Frl. Mayr capped them 
wdth a story of how she' d been drawn through the streets of 
Munich in a carriage by excited students. From this point 
it did not take Sally long to persuade Frl. Ma>T to sing 


Sennerin Abschied von der Aim, which, after claret cup and 
a bottle of very inexpensive cognac, so exactly suited my 
mood that I shed a few tears. We all joined in the repeats and 
the final, ear-splitting Juch~he! Then Sally sang ‘IVe got those 
Little Boy Blues” with so much expression that Bobby s mixer 
colleague, taking it personally, seized her round the waist 
and had to be restrained by Bobby, who reminded him firmly 
that it was time to be getting along to business. 

Sally and I went with them to the Troika, where we met 
Fritz. With him was Klaus Linke, the young pianist who used 
to accompany Sally when she sang at the Lady Windermere. 
Later, Fritz and I went off alone. Fritz seemed rather de- 
pressed: he wouldn’t tell me why. Some girls did classical 
figure-tableaux behind gauze. And then there was a big 
dancing-hall with telephones on the tables. We had the usual 
kind of conversations: “Pardon me, Madame, I feel sure 
from your voice that you’re a fascinating little blonde with 
long black eyelashes — ^just my type. How did I know? Aha, 
that’s my secret! Yes — quite right: I’m tall, dark, broad- 
shouldered, military appearance, and the tiniest little mous- 
tache. . . . You don’t believe me? Then come and see for 
yourself!” The couples were dancing with hands on each 
other’s hips, yelling in each other’s faces, streaming with 
sweat. An orchestra in Bavarian costume whooped and drank 
and perspired beer. The place stank like a zoo. After this, I 
thi n k I strayed off alone and wandered for hours and hours 
through a jungle of paper streamers. Next morning, when I 
woke, the bed was full of them. 

I had been up and dressed for some time when Sally re- 
turned home. She came straight into my room, looking tired 
but very pleased with herself. 

“HuUo, darling! What time is it?” 

“Nearly lunch-time.” 

“I say, is it really? How marvellous! I’m practically starv- 
ing. IVe had nothing for breakfast but a cup of coffee. . . ” 
She paused expectantly, waiting for my next question. 


“Where have you been?” I asked. 

“But, darling,” Sally opened her eyes very wide in affected 
surprise: “I thought you knew!” 

“I haven’t the least idea.” 


“Really I haven’t, Sally.” 

“Oh, Christopher darling, how can you be such a liar! 
WTiy, it was obvious that you’d planned the whole thing! The 
way you got rid of Fritz — ^he looked so cross! Klaus and I 
nearly died of laughing.” 

All the same, she wasn’t quite at her ease. For the first 
time, I saw her blush. 

“Have you got a cigarette, Chris?” 

I gave her one and lit the match. She blew out a long 
cloud of smoke and walked slowly to the window: 

“I’m most terribly in love with him.” 

She turned, frowning shghtly; crossed to the sofa and 
curled herself up carefully, arranging her hands and feet: 
“At least, I think I am,” she added. 

I allowed a respectful pause to elapse before asking: “And 
is Klaus in love with you?” 

“He absolutely adores me.” Sally was very serious indeed. 
She smoked for several minutes: “He says he fell in love 
with me the first time we met, at the Lady Windermere. But 
as long as we were working together, he didn’t dare to say 
anything. He was afraid it might put me off my singing. 
. . . He says that, before he met me, he’d no idea what a 
marv^ellously beautiful thing a woman’s body is. He’s only 
had about three women before, in his life . . 

I lit a cigarette. 

“Of course, Chris, I don’t suppose you really understand 
. . , It’s awfully hard to explain. . . ” 

I m sure it is. 

“I’m seeing him again at four o’clock.” Sally’s tone was 
slightly defiant. 

“In that case, you’d better get some sleep. Ill ask Fri 


Schroeder to scramble you some eggs; or 111 do them myself 
if she’s still too drunk. You get into bed. You can eat them 

“Thanks, Chris darling. You are an angel.” Sally yawned. 
“What on earth I should do without you, I don’t know.” 

After this, Sally and IGaus saw each other every day. They 
generally met at our house; and, once, Klaus stayed the whole 
night. Frl. Schroeder didn’t say much to me about it, but I 
could see that she was rather shocked. Not that she disap- 
proved of Klaus: she thought him very attractive. But she 
regarded Sally as my property, and it shocked her to see me 
standing so tamely to one side. I am sure, however, that if I 
hadn’t Imown about the affair, and if Sally had really been 
deceiving me, Frl. Schroeder would have assisted at the 
conspiracy with the greatest relish. 

Meanwhile, Klaus and I were a little shy of each other. 
When we happened to meet on the stairs, we bowed coldly, 
like enemies. 

About the middle of January, Klaus left suddenly, for 
England. Quite unexpectedly he had got the offer of a very 
good job, s)nchronizing music for the films. The afternoon 
he came to say good-bye there was a positively surgical 
atmosphere in the fiat, as though Sally were undergoing a 
dangerous operation. Frl. Schroeder and Frl. Mayr sat in the 
living-room and laid cards. The results, Frl. Schroeder later 
assured me, couldn’t have been better. The eight of clubs 
had appeared three times in a favourable conjunction. 

Sally spent the whole of the next day curled up on the sofa 
in her room, with pencil and paper on her lap. She was 
writing poems. She wouldn’t let me see them. She smoked 
cigarette after cigarette, and mixed Prairie Oysters, but re- 


fused to eat more than a few mouthfuls of Frl. Schroeder s 

‘'Can't I bring you something in, Sally?” 

“No thanks, Chris darling. I just don't want to eat any- 
thing at all. I feel all marvellous and ethereal, as if I was a 
kind of most wonderful saint, or something. You've no idea 
how glorious it feels. . . . Have a chocolate, darling? Klaus 
gave me three boxes. If I eat any more, I shall be sick.” 

“Thank you.” 

“I don't suppose I shall ever marry him. It would min our 
careers. You see, Christopher, he adores me so terribly that 
it wouldn't be good for him to always have me hanging 

“Y'ou might marry after you're both famous.” 

Sally considered this: 

“No. . . . That would spoil ever)*thing. We should be 
trying all the time to live up to our old selves, if you know 
what I mean. And we should both be different. ... He was 
so marv^ellously primitive: just like a faun. He made me feel 
like a most marvellous nymph, or something, miles away from 
anywhere, in the middle of the forest” 

The first letter from Klaus duly arrived. We had all been 
anxiously awaiting it; and Frl. Schroeder woke me up 
specially early to tell me that it had come. Perhaps she was 
afraid that she w^ould never get a chance of reading it her- 
self and relied on me to tell her the contents. If so, her fears 
were groundless, Sally not only sho%ved the letter to Frl. 
Schroeder, Frl. Mayr, Bobby and myself, she even read 
selections from it aloud in the presence of the porter s wife, 
who had come up to collect the rent. 

From the first, the letter left a nasty taste in my mouth. Its 
whole tone was egotistical and a bit patronizing. Klaus didn't 
like London, he said. He felt lonely there. The food dis- 
agreed with him. And the people at the studio treated him 
with lack of consideration. He wished Sally were with him; 


she could have helped him in many ways. However, now 
that he was in England, he would try to make the best of it 
He would work hard and earn money; and Sally was to work 
hard too. Work would cheer her up and keep her from getting 
depressed. At the end of the letter came various endear- 
ments, rather too slickly applied. Reading them, one felt: 
he’s written this kind of thing several times before. 

Sally was delighted, however. Klaus’ exhortation made such 
an impression upon her that she at once rang up several film 
companies, a theatrical agency and half a dozen of her “busi- 
ness ’ acquaintances. Nothing definite came of all tliis, it is 
true; but she remained very optimistic throughout the next 
twenty-four hours — even her dreams, she told me, had been 
full of contracts and four-figure cheques: “It’s the most 
marv’ellous feeling, Chris. I know Tm going right ahead now 
and going to become the most wonderful actress in the 

One morning, about a week after this, I went into Sally’s 
room and found her holding a letter in her hand. I recognized 
Klaus’ handwriting at once. 

“Good morning, Chris darling.” 

“Good morning, Sally.” 

“How did you sleep?” Her tone was unnaturally bright 
and chatty. 

“All right, thanks. How did you?” 

“Fairly ail right. . . . Filthy weather, isn’t it?” 

“Yes.” I walked over to the window to look. It was. 

Sally smiled conversationally: “Do you know what this 
swine’s gone and done?” 

“What swine?” I wasn’t going to be caught out. 

“Oh Chris! For God’s sake, don’t be so dense!” 

“I’m very sorry. I’m afraid I’m a bit slow in the uptake this 

“I can’t be bothered to explain, darling.” Sally held out the 
letter. “Here, read this, will you? Of all the blasted im- 


pudence! Read it aloud. I want to hear how it sounds ” 

“Mein liebes, armes Kind,” the letter began. Klaus called 
Sally his poor dear child because, as he explained, he was 
afraid that what he had to tell her would make her terribly 
unhappy. Nevertheless, he must say it: he must tell her that 
he had come to a decision. She mustn't imagine that this 
had been easy for him: it had been ver)^ diflScult and painful. 
All the same, he knew he was right. In a word, they must 

“I see now,” wrote Klaus, “that I behaved very selfishly. 
I thought only of my own pleasure. But now I realize that I 
must have had a bad influence on you. My dear little girl, 
you have adored me too much. If we should continue to be 
together, you would soon have no will and no mind of your 
own.” Klaus went on to advise Sally to live for her w^ork. 
“Work is the only thing which matters, as I myself have 
found.” He was very much concerned that Sally shouldn’t 
upset herself unduly; “You must be brave, Sally, my poor 
darling child.” 

Right at the end of the letter, it all came out: 

“I w^as invited a few nights ago to a party at the house of 
Lady Klein, a leader of the English aristocracy. I met there 
a very beautiful and intelligent young English girl named 
Miss Gore-Eckersley. She is related to an English lord whose 
name I couldn’t quite hear — you will probably know which 
one I mean. We have met twice since then and had won- 
derful conversations about many things. I do not think I have 
ever met a girl who could understand my mind so well as 
she does — ” 

“That’s a new one on me,” broke in Sally bitterly, with 
a short laugh; “I never suspected the bov of having a mind 
at all.” 

At this moment we were interrupted by Frl Schroeder 
who had come, sniffing secrets, to ask if Sally would like a 
bath. I left them together to make the most of the occasion. 

“I can t be angry with the fool,” said Sally, later in the 
day, pacing up an^ down the room and furiously smoking; 


“I just feel sorry for him in a motherly sort of way. But what 
on earth’ll happen to his work, if he chucks himself at these 
women s heads, I can’t imagine.” 

She made another turn of the room: 

“I think if he’d been having a proper aflFair with another 
woman, and had only told me about it after it’d been going 
on for a long time, I’d have minded more. But this girl! Why, 
I don’t suppose she’s even his mistress.” 

“Obviously not,” I agreed. “I say, shall we have a Prairie 

“How marvellous you are, Chris! You always think of just 
the right thing. I wish I could fall in love with you. Klaus 
isn’t worth your little finger ” 

"1 know he isn’t.” 

“The blasted cheek,” exclaimed Sally, gulping the Worces- 
ter sauce and licking her upper lip, “of his saying I adored 
him! . . . The worst of it is, I did!” 

That evening I went into her room and found her with pen 
and paper before her: 

“I’ve written about a million letters to him and tom them 
all up.” 

“It’s no good, Sally. Let’s go to the cinema.” 

“Right you are, Chris darling.” Sally wiped her eyes with 
the comer of her tiny handkerchief: “It’s no use bothering, 
is it?” 

“Not a bit of use.” 

“And now I jolly well will be a great actress — ^just to show 

“That’s the spirit!” 

We went to a little cinema in the Biilowstrasse, where they 
were showing a film about a girl who sacrificed her stage 
career for the sake of a Great Love, Home and Children. We 
laughed so much that we had to leave before the end. 

“I feel ever so much better now,” said Sally, as we were 
coming away. 

“I’m glad ” 


“Perhaps, after all, I can’t have been properly in love 
with him. . , . What do you think?” 

“It’s rather difficult for me to say/’ 

“I’ve often thought I was in love with a man, and then I 
found I wasn’t. But this time,” Sally’s voice was regretful, 
“I really did feel sure of it. . . . And now, somehow, everj^- 
thing seems to have got a bit confused. . . .” 

“Perhaps you’re suffering from shock,” I suggested. 

Sally was very pleased with this idea: “Do you know, I 
expect I am! , . . You know, Chris, you do understand 
women most marv^ellously: better than any man I’ve ever 
met. . . . I’m sure that some day you’ll write the most mar- 
vellous novel which’ll sell simply millions of copies.” 

“Thank you for believing in me, Sally!” 

“Do you believe in me, too, Chris?” 

“Of course I do.” 

“No, but honestly?” 

“Well . . . I’m quite certain you’ll make a terrific success 
at something — only I’m not sure what it’ll be. ... I mean, 
tliere’s so many things you could do if you tried, aren’t 

“I suppose there are.” Sally became thoughtful. “At least, 
sometimes I feel like that. . . . And sometimes I feel I’m no 
damn’ use at anything. . . . Why, I can’t even keep a man 
faithful to me for the inside of a month.” 

“Oh, Sally, don’t let’s start all that again!” 

“AU right, Chris — ^we won’t start all that. Let’s go and have 
a drink/* 

During the weeks that followed, Sally and I were together 
most of the day. Curled up on the sofa in the big dingy 
room, she smoked, drank Prairie Oysters, talked endlessly of 
the future. When the weather was fine, and I hadn’t any 
lessons to give, we strolled as far as the Wittenbergplatz anSi 
sat on a benclx in the sunshine, discussing the people who 


went past. Everj^body stared at Sally, in her canary yellow 
beret and shabby fur coat, like the skin of a mangy old dog. 

“I wonder,” she was fond of remarking, “what they’d say 
if they knew that we two old tramps were going to be the 
most marvellous novelist and the greatest actress in the 

“They’d probably be very much surprised.” 

“I expect we shall look back on this time when we’re driv- 
ing about in our Mercedes, and think: After all, it wasn’t 
such bad fun!” 

“It wouldn't be such bad fun if we had that Mercedes now.” 

We talked continually about wealth, fame, huge contracts 
for Sally, record-breaking sales for the novels I should one 
day wTite. “I think,” said Sally, “it must be marvellous to be 
a novelist. You’re frightfully dreamy and unpractical and im- 
businesslike, and people imagine they can fairly swindle you 
as much as they want^ — and then you sit down and write a 
book about them which fairly shows them what swine they 
all are, and it’s the most terrific success and you make pots of 

“I expect the trouble with me is that I’m not quite dreamy 
enough. . . 

. if only I could get a really rich man as my lover. 
Let’s see ... I shouldn’t want more than three thousand 
a year, and a flat and a decent car. I’d do anything, just now, 
to get rich. If you’re rich you can afford to stand out for a 
really good contract; you don’t have to snap up the first offer 
you get. . . . Of course, I’d be absolutely faithful to the man 
who kept me — 

Sadly said things like this very seriously and evidently be- 
lieved she meant them. She was in a curious state of mind, 
restless and nervy. Often she flew into a temper for no special 
reason. She talked incessantly about getting work, but made 
no effort to do so. Her allowance hadn’t been stopped, so 
far, however, and we were living very cheaply, since Sally 
no longer cared to go out in the evenings or to see other 


people at all. Once, Fritz came to tea. I left them alone to- 
gether afterwards to go and write a letter. When I came 
back Fritz had gone and Sally was in tears: 

“That man bores me so!” she sobbed. “I hate him! I should 
like to kill him!” 

But in a few minutes she was quite calm again. I started 
to mix tlie inevitable Prairie Oyster. Sally, curled up on the 
sofa, was thoughtfully smoking: 

“I wonder ” she said suddenly, “if Pm going to have a 

“Good God!” I nearly dropped the glass: “Do you reallv 
think you are?” 

“I don t know. With me it’s so difficult to tell: I’m so ir- 
regular . . . Ive felt sick sometimes. It’s probably some- 
thing I’ve eaten. . . 

“But hadn’t you better see a doctor?” 

“Oh, I suppose so.” Sally yawned listlessly. “There’s no 

“Of course there’s a hurry! You’ll go and see a doctor 

“Look here, Chris, who the hell do you think you’re order- 
ing about? I wish now I hadn’t said anytliing about it at all!” 
Sally was on the point of bursting into tears again. 

“Oh, all right! All right!” I hastily tried to calm her. “Do 
just what you like. It’s no business of mine.” 

“Sony, darling. I didn’t mean to be snappy. Ill see how I 
feel in the morning. Perhaps I will go and see tiiat doctor, 
after all.” 

But of course, she didn’t Next day, indeed, she seemed 
much brighter: “Let s go out this evening, Chris. I’m getting 
sick of this room. Let’s go and see some life!” 

“Right you are, Sally. \^"here would you like to go?” 

“Let’s go to the Troika and talk to that old idiot Bobby. 
Perhaps he’ll stand us a drink — yon never knowl” 

Bobby didn’t stand us any drinks; but Sally’s suggestion 
proved to have been a good one, neverthel^s. For it was 


while sitting at the bar of the Troika that we first got into 
conversation with Clive. 

From that moment onwards we were with him almost con- 
tinuously; either separately or together. I never once saw him 
sober. Clive told us that he drank half a bottle of whisky 
before breakfast, and I had no reason to disbelieve him. He 
often began to explain to us why he drank so much — it was 
because he was very unhappy. But why he was so unhappy 
I never found out, because Sally always interrupted to say 
that it was time to be going out or moving on to the next place 
or smoking a cigarette or having another glass of whisky. She 
was drinldng nearly as much whisky as Clive himself. It 
never seemed to make her really drunk, but sometimes her 
eyes looked awful, as though they had been boiled. Every 
day the layer of make-up on her face seemed to get thicker. 

Clive was a very big man, good-looking in a heavy Roman 
way, and just beginning to get fat. He had about him that 
sad, American air of vagueness which is always attractive; 
doubly attractive in one who possessed so much money. He 
was vague, wistful, a bit lost; dimly anxious to have a good 
time and uncertain how to set about getting it. He seemed 
never to be quite sure whether he was really enjoying him- 
self, whether what we were doing was really fun. He had con- 
stantly to be reassured. Was this the genuine article? Was 
this the real guaranteed height of a Good Time? It was? 
Yes, yes, of course — it was marvellous! It was great! Ha, ha, 
ha! His big school-boyish laugh rolled out, re-echoed, be- 
came rather forced and died away abruptly on that puzzled 
note of enquir}^ He couldn t venture a step without our 
support. Yet, even as he appealed to us, I thought I could 
sometimes detect odd sly fishes of sarcasm. What did he 
really think of us? 

Eveiy^ morning, Clive sent round a hired car to fetch us 
to the hotel where he was staying. The chauffeur always 
brought with him a wonderful bouquet of flowers, ordered 


from the most expensive flower-shop in the Linden. One 
morning I had a lesson to give and arranged with Sally to 
join them later. On arriving at the hotel, I found that Clive 
and Sally had left early to fly to Dresden. There was a note 
from Clive, apologizing profusely and inviting me to lunch 
at the hotel restaurant, by myself, as his guest. But I didn't. 
I was afraid of that look in the head waiter s eve. In the 
evening, when Clive and Sally returned, Clive had brought 
me a present: it was a parcel of six silk shirts. ‘‘He wanted to 
get you a gold cigarette case,” Sally whispered in my ear, 
‘"but I told him shirts would be better. Yours are in such a 
state. . . . Besides, w^eve got to go slow at present. We don't 
want him to think we're gold-diggers. . . 

I accepted them gratefully. What else could I do? Clive 
had corrupted us utterly. It was understood that he was 
going to put up the money to launch Sally upon a stage 
career. He often spoke of this, in a thoroughly nice way, as 
though it were a very trivial matter, to be settled, without 
fuss, between friends. But no sooner had he touched on the 
subject than his attention seemed to wander off again — his 
thoughts were as easily distracted as those of a child. Some- 
times Sally was veiy hard put to it, I could see, to hide her 
impatience. “Just leave us alone for a bit now, darling,” she 
would whisper to me, “Clive and I are going to talk busi- 
ness.” But however tactfully Sally tried to bring him to the 
point, she never quite succeeded. When I rejoined them, half 
an hour later, I would find Clive smiling and sipping his 
whisky; and Sally also smiling, to conceal her extreme irrita- 

“I adore him,” Sally told me, repeatedly and very solemnly, 
whenever we were alone together. She was intensely earnest 
in believing this. It was like a dogma in a newly adopted 
religious creed; Sally adores Clive. It is a very solemn under- 
taking to adore a millionaire. Sally's features began to assume, 
with increasing frequency, the rapt expression of the theat- 
rical nun. And indeed, when Clive, with his charming vague- 
ness, gave a particularly flagrant professional beggar a 


twenty-mark note, we would exchange- glances of genuine 
awe. The waste of so much good money aSected us both like 
something inspired, a kind of miracle. 

There came an afternoon when Clive seemed more nearly 
sober than usual. He began to make plans. In a few days we 
were ail tliree of us to leave Berlin, for good. The Orient 
Express would take us to Athens. Thence, we should fly to 
Eg)^pt. From Egypt to Marseilles. From Marseilles, by boat 
to South America. Then Tahiti. Singapore. Japan. Clive 
pronounced the names as though they had been stations on 
the Wannsee railway, quite as a matter of course; he had 
been there already. He knew it all. His matter-of-fact bore- 
dom gradually infused reality into the preposterous con- 
versat'on. After all, he could do it. I began seriously to be- 
lieve that he meant to do it. With a mere gesture of his 
wealth, he could alter the whole course of our lives. 

What would become of us? Once started, we should never 
go back. We could never leave him. Sally, of course, he would 
marr)^ I should occupy an ill-defined position: a kind of 
private secretary without duties. With a flash of vision, I 
saw myself ten years hence, in flannels and black and white 
shoes, gone heavier round the jowl and a bit glassy, pouring 
out a drink in the lounge of a Californian hotel. 

“Come and cast an eye at the funeral,” Clive was saying, 
“What funeral, darling?” Sally asked, patiently. This was 
a new kind of interruption. 

“Why, say, haven’t you noticed it?’ Clive laughed, “It s a 
most elegant funeral. It s been going past for the last hour,” 
We all three went out on to the b^cony of Clive s room. 
Sure enough, the street below was full of people. They were 
burying Hermann Muller Ranks of pale steadfast clerks, 
government officials, trade union secretaries — ^the whole drab 
weary pageant of Prussian Soda! Democracy — ^trudged past 
under their banners towards the silhouetted arches of the 


Brandenburger Tor, from which the long black streamers 
stirred slowly in an evening breeze. 

“Say, who was this guy, an)way?’’ asked Clive, looking 
down. “I guess he must have been a big swell?” 

“God knows,” Sally answered, yawning. “Look, Clive dar- 
ling, isn't it a marvellous sunset?” 

She was quite right. We had nothing to do with those 
Germans down there, marching, or with the dead man in the 
coffin, or with the words on the banners. In a few days, I 
thought, we shall have forfeited all kinship with ninety-nine 
per cent, of the population of the world, with the men and 
women who earn their living, wbo insure their lives, who are 
anxious about the future of their children. Perhaps in the 
Middle Ages people felt like this, when they believed them- 
selves to have sold their souls to the Devil. It was a curious, 
exhilarating, not unpleasant sensation: but, at the same time, 
I felt slightly scared. Yes, I said to myself, IVe done it, now. 
I am lost. 

Next morning, we arrived at the hotel at the usual time. 
The porter eyed us, I thought, rather queerly. 
horn did you wish to see. Madam?” 

The question seemed so extraordinary that we both 

“Why, number 365, of course,” Sally answered. “Who did 
you think? Don't you know us by this time?” 

“Tm afraid you can t do that. Madam. The gentleman in 
365 left early this morning.” 

“Left? You mean he's gone out for the day? That's funny! 
What time will he be back?” 

“He didn't say anything about coming back. Madam. He 
'was travelling to Budapest” 

As we stood there goggling at him, a waiter hurried up 
with a note. 

“Dear Sally and Chris,” it said, “I can't stick this darned 


town any longer, so am off. Hoping to see you sometime, 

" ( These are in case I forgot anything. ) " 

In the envelope were three hundred-mark notes. These, 
the fading flowers, Sally’s four pairs of shoes and two hats 
(bought in Dresden) and my six shirts were our total assets 
from Clive s visit. At first, Sally was veiy^ angry. Then we both 
began to laugh: 

“Well, Chris, Tm afraid we’re not much use as gold- 
diggers, are we, darling?” 

We spent most of the day discussing whether Clive’s de- 
parture was a premeditated trick. I was inclined to think 
it wasn’t. I imagined him leaving every new town and every 
new set of acquaintances in much the same sort of way. I 
sympathized with him, a good deal. 

Then came the question of what was to be done with the 
money. Sally decided to put by two hundred and fifty marks 
for some new clothes: fifty marks we would blow that eve- 

But blowing the fifty marks wasn’t as much fun as we’d 
imagined it would be. Sally felt ill and couldn’t eat the 
wonderful dinner we’d ordered. We were both depressed. 

“You know, Chris, I’m beginning to think that men are 
always going to leave me. The more I think about it, the 
more men I remember who have. It’s ghastly, really.” 

“I’ll never leave you, Sally.” 

“Won’t you, darling? . . . But seriously, I believe I’m a 
sort of Ideal Woman, if you know what I mean. I’m the sort 
of woman who can take men away from their wives, but I 
could never keep anybody for long. And that’s because I’m 
the type which every man imagines he wants, until he gets 
me; and then he finds he doesn’t really, after all.” 

^Well, you’d rather be that than the Ugly Duckling with 
the Heart of Gold, wouldn’t you?” 

"... I could kick myself, the way I behaved to Clive. I 
ought never to have bothered him about money, the way I 
did. I expect he thought I was just a common little whore, 


like all the others. And I really did adore him — in a way. , • . 
If rd married him, Fd have made a man out of him. Fd have 
got him to give up drinking.” 

“You set him such a good example.” 

We both laughed. 

“The old swine might at least have left me with a decent 

“Never mind, darling. There’s more where he came from.” 

“I don’t care,” said Sally. “Fm sick of being a whore. Fll 
never look at a man with money again.” 

Next morning, Sally felt very ill. We both put it down to 
the drink. She stayed in bed the whole morning and when 
she got up she fainted. I wanted her to see a doctor straight 
away, but she wouldn’t. About tea-time, she fainted again 
and looked so bad afterwards that Frl. Schroeder and I sent 
for a doctor witliout consulting her at all. 

The doctor, when he arrived, stayed a long time. Frl. 
Schroeder and I sat waiting in the living-room to hear his 
diagnosis. But, veiy^ much to our surprise, he left tlie fiat 
suddenly, in a great hurry, without even looking in to wish 
us good afternoon. I went at once to Sally’s room. Sally was 
sitting up in bed, wdth a rather fixed grin on her face: 

“Well, Christopher darling, Fve been made an April Fool 

“What do you mean?” 

“He says Fm going to have a baby ” 

Sally tried to laugh. 

“Oh my God!” 

“Don’t look so scared, darling! Fve been more or tes ex- 
pecting it, you know.” 

“It’s Klaus’s, I suppose?” 


“And what are you going to do about it?” 

“Not have it, of course.” Sally reached for a cigarette. I 
sat stupidly staring at my sho^. 


‘Will the doctor . . ” 

“No, he won’t. I asked him straight out. He was terribly 
shocked. I said: ‘My dear man, what do you imagine would 
happen to the unfortunate child if it was bom? Do I look as 
if rd make a good motherF ” 

“And what did he say to that?’’ 

“He seemed to think it was quite beside the point. The 
only thing which matters to him is his professional reputa- 

“Well then, we ve got to find someone without a profes- 
sional reputation, that’s all.” 

“I should think,” said Sally, “we’d better ask Frl. Schroe- 

So Frl. Schroeder was consulted. She took it very well: she 
was alarmed but extremely practical. Yes, she knew of some- 
body. A friend of a friend’s friend had once had difficulties. 
And the doctor was a fully qualified man, very clever indeed. 
The only trouble was, he might be rather expensive. 

“Tha^ goodness,” Sally inter|ected, “we haven’t spent all 
that swine Clive’s money!” 

“I must say, I think Klaus ought 

“Look here, Chris. Let me tell you this once for all: if I 
catch you writing to Klaus about this business. I’ll never for- 
give you and I’ll never speak to you again!” 

“Oh, very well . • . Of course I won’t. It was just a sugges- 
tion, that’s aU.” 

I didn’t like the doctor. He kept stroking and pinching 
Sally’s arm and pawing her hand. However, he seemed the 
right man for the job. Sally was to go mto his private nursing- 
home as soon as there was a vacancy for her. Everything was 
perfectly official and above-board. In a few polished sen- 
tence, the dapper little doctor dispelled the least whiff of 
sinister illegality. Sally’s slate of health, he explained, made 
it quite impossible for her to undergo the risks of childbirth: 
there would be a certificate to that effect. Needless to say, 
the certificate would cost a lot of money. So would the 
nursing-home and so would the operation itself. The doctor 


wanted two hundred and fifty marks down before he would 
make any arrangements at all. In the end, we beat him down 
to two hundred. Sally wanted the extra fifty, she explained to 
me later, to get some new nightdresses. 

At last, it was spring. The caf& were putting up wooden 
platforms on the pavement and the ice-cream shops were 
opening, with their rainbow-wheels. We drove to the nursing- 
home in an open taxi. Because of the lovely weather, Sally 
was in better spirits than I had seen her in for weeks. But 
Frl. Schroeder, though she bravely tried to smile, was on the 
verge of tears. “The doctor isn’t a Jew, I hope?” Frl. Mayr 
asked me sternly. “Don’t you let one of those filthy Jews 
touch her. They always tiy^ to get a job of that kind, the 

Sally had a nice room, clean and cheerful, with a balcony. 
I call^ there again in the evening. L)ing in bed without 
her make-up, she looked years younger, like a little girl: 

“Hullo, darling. . . . They haven’t killed me yet, you see. 
But they’ve been doing their best to. . . . Isn’t this a funny 
place? ... I wish that pig Klaus could see me. . . . This is 
what comes of not understanding his mind, . . 

She w'as a bit feverish and laughed a great deal. One of 
the nurses came in for a moment, as if looking for something, 
and went out again almost immediately. 

“She was dying to get a peep at you,” Sally explained. “You 
see, I told her you were the father. You don’t mind, do you 
darling . . 

“Not at all. Its a compliment.” 

“It makes everything so much simpler. Otherwise, if there’s 
no one, they think it so odd. And I don’t care for being sort 
of looked down on and pitied as the poor betrayed girl who 
gets abandoned by her lover. It isn’t particularly flattering for 
me, is it? So I told her we were most terribly in love but 
fearfully hard up, so that we couldn’t afford to marry, and 
how we dreamed of the time when we’d both be rich and 


famous and then we’d have a family of ten, just to make up 
for this one. The nurse was awfully touched, poor girl. In 
fact, she wept. To-night, when she’s on duty, she’s going to 
show me pictures of her young man. Isn’t it sweet?” 

Next day, Frl. Schroeder and I went round to the nursing- 
home together. We found SaUy l>dng flat, with the bedclothes 
up to her chin: 

^'Oh, hullo, you two! Won’t you sit down? What time is it?” 
She turned uneasily in bed and rubbed her eyes: “Where did 
aU these flowers come from?” 

“We brought them.” 

“How marv^ellous of you!” Sally smiled vacantly. “Sorry to 
be such a fool to-day. . . . It’s this bloody chloroform. . , . 
My head s full of it.” 

We only sta}^ed a few minutes. On the way home Frl. 
Schroeder was terribly upset: “Will you believe it, Herr Is- 
syvoo, I couldn’t take it more to heart if it was my own 
daughter? Why, when I see the poor child suffering like that, 
I’d rather it was myself lying tibere in her place — ^I would 

Next day Sally was much better. We all went to visit her: 
Frl, Schroeder, Frl. Mayr, Bobby and Fritz. Fritz, of course, 
hadn’t the faintest idea what had really happened. Sally, he 
had been told, w^as being operated upon for a small internal 
ulcer. As always is the way with people when they aren’t 
in the know, he made aU kinds of unintentional and star- 
tlingly apt references to storks, gooseberry-bushes, peram- 
bulators and babies generally; and even recounted a special 
new item of scandal about a well-known Berlin society lady 
who was said to have undergone a recent illegal operation. 
Sally and I avoided each other’s eyes. 

On the evening of the next day, I visited her at the nursing- 
home for the last time. She was to leave in the morning. She 


was alone and we sat together on the balcony. She seemed 
more or less all right now and could walk about the room. 

"I told the Sister I didn’t want to see anybody to-day ex- 
cept you.” Sally yawned languidly. "People make me feel so 

"Would you rather I went away too?” 

“Oh no,” said Sally, without much enthusiasm, “if you go, 
one of the nurses will only come in and begin to chatter; and 
if Tm not lively and bright with her, they’ll say I have to stay 
in this hellish place a couple of extra days, and I couldn’t 
stand that.” 

She stared out moodily over the quiet street: 

“You know, Chris, in some ways I wish I’d had that kid. 
... It w^ould have been rather marv’ellous to have had it 
The last day or two, I’ve been sort of feeling what it would 
be like to be a mother. Do you know, last night, I sat here 
for a long time by myself and held this cushion in my arms 
and imagined it was my baby? And I felt a most marvellous 
sort of shut-off feeling from dl the rest of the world, I imag- 
ined how it’d grow up and how I’d wrork for it, and how, after 
I’d put it to bed at nights, I’d go out and make love to filthy 
old men to get money to pay for its food and clothes. . . . 
It’s all very well for you to grin like that, Chris ... I did 

“Well, why don’t you marry and have one?” 

“I don’t know. ... I feel as if I’d lost faith in men. I just 
haven’t any use for them at all. . . . Even you, Christopher, 
if you were to go out into the street now and be run over by 
a taxi. ... I should be sorry in a way, of course, but I 
shouldn’t really care a damn.” 

“Thank you, Sally.” 

We both laughed. 

“I didn’t mean that, of course, darling — at least, not per- 
sonally. You mustn’t mind w^hat I say while Im like tliis. I 
get all sorts of cra2y ideas into my head. Having babies makes 
you feel awfully primitive, like a sort of wild animal or some- 
thing, defending its young. Only the trouble is, I haven’t any 


young to defend. ... I expect thafs what makes me so 
frightfully bad-tempered to everybody just now." 

It was partly as the result of this conversation that I sud- 
denly decided, tliat evening, to cancel all my lessons, leave 
Berlin as soon as possible, go to some place on the Baltic and 
try to start working. Since Christmas, I had hardly written 
a word. 

Sally, when I told her my idea, was rather relieved, I 
think. We both needed a change. We talked vaguely of her 
joining me later; but, even then, I felt that she wouldn’t. 
Her plans were very uncertain. Later, she might go to Paris, 
or to the Alps, or to the South of France, she said — if she 
could get the cash. ‘‘But probably,” she added, “I shall just 
stay on here. I should be quite happy. I seem to have got 
sort of used to this place.” 

I returned to Berlin towards the middle of July. 

All this time I had heard nothing of Sally, beyond half a 
dozen postcards, exchanged during the first month of my ab- 
sence. I wasn’t much surprised to find she’d left her room in 
our flat: 

“Of course, I quite understand her going. I couldn’t make 
her as comfortable as she’d the right to expect; especially as 
we haven’t any running water in the beiooms.” Poor Frl. 
Schroeder’s eyes had filled with tears. “But it was a terrible 
disappointment to me, all the same. . . . Frl. Bowles be- 
haved very handsomely, I can’t complain about that. She 
insisted on paying for her room until the end of July. I was 
entitled to the money, of coixrse, because she didn’t give 
notice until the twenty-first — ^but I’d never have mentioned 
it. , . . She was such a charming young lady " 

“Have you got her address?" 

“Oh yes, and the telephone number. You’ll be ringing her 
up, of TOurse. She’H be delighted to see you. . • • The other 


gentlemen came and went, but you were her real friend, Herr 
Iss}woo. You know, I always used to hope that you two would 
get married. You’d have made an ideal couple. You always 
had such a good steady influence on her, and she used to 
brighten you up a bit when you got too deep in your books 
and studies. . . . Oh yes, Herr Issyvoo, you may laugh — 
but you never can tell! Perhaps it isn’t too late yet!” 

Next morning, Frl. Schroeder woke me in great excite- 

“Herr Issyvoo, what do you think! They’ve shut the Darm- 
stadter und National! Therell be thousands mined, I 
shouldn’t wonder! The milkman says well have civil war in 
a fortnight! Whatever do you say to that!” 

As soon as I’d got dressed, I went down into the street 
Sure enough, there was a crowd outside the branch bank 
on the Nollendorfplatz comer, a lot of men with leather 
satchels and women with stringbags — women like FrL 
Schroeder herself. The iron lattices were drawn down over 
the bank windows. Most of the people were staring intently 
and rather stupidly at the locked door. In the middle of the 
door was fixed a small notice, beautifully printed in Gothic 
type, like a page from a classic author. The notice said that 
the Reichspresident had guaranteed the deposits. Everything 
was quite all right. Only the bank wasn’t going to open. 

A little boy was pla)dng with a hoop amongst the crowd. 
The hoop ran against a woman’s legs. She flew out at him 
at once: ""Du, sei bloss nicht so frech! Cheeky little brat! 
What do you want here!” Another woman joined in, attacking 
the scared hoy: “Get out! You can’t understand it, can you?” 
And another asked, in furious sarcasm: “Have you got your 
money in the bank too, perhaps?” The boy fled before their 
pent-up, exploding rage. 

In the afternoon it was very hot. The details of the new 
emergency decrees were in the early evening papers — terse, 
govemmentally inspired. One alarmist headline stood out 


boldly, barred with blood-red ink: “Everything Collapses!” 
A Nazi journalist reminded his readers that to-morrow, the 
fourteenth of July, was a day of national rejoicing in France; 
and doubtless, he added, the French would rejoice with 
especial fervour this year, at the prospect of Germany’s 
downfall. Going into an outfitter’s, I bought myself a pair of 
ready-made flannel trousers for twelve marks fifty — a gesture 
of confidence by England. Then I got into the Underground 
to go and visit Sally. 

She was li\ing in a block of three-room flats, designed as 
an Artists’ Colony, not far from the Breitenbachplatz. When 
I rang the bell, she opened the door to me herself: 

“Hilloo, Chris, you old swine!” 

“Hullo, Sally darling!* 

“How are you? ... Be careful, darling, you’ll make me 
untidy. I’ve got to go out in a few minutes.” 

I had never seen her all in white before. It suited her. But 
her face looked thinner and older. Her hair was cut in a new 
way and beautifully waved. 

‘Tou’re very smart,” I said. 

“Am I?” Sally smiled her pleased, dreamy, self-conscious 
smile. I followed her into the sitting-room of the flat. One 
wall was entirely window There was some cherry-coloured 
wooden furniture and a very low divan with gaudy fringed 
cushions. A fluffy white miniature dog jumped to its feet and 
yapped. Sally picked it up and went through the gestures of 
kissing it, just not touching it with her lips: 

“Freddi, mein Liebling, Du bist soo suss!” 

“Yours?” I asked, noticing the improvement in her German 

“No. He belongs to Gerda, the girl I share this flat with.” 

“Have you known her long?” 

“Only a week or two.” 

“Whafs she like?” 

“Not bad. As stingy as hell. I have to pay for practically 

“It's nice here ” 


"‘Do you think so? Yes, I suppose ifs all right. Better than 
that hole in the Nollendorfstrasse, anyhow.” 

“What made you leave? Did you and FrI. Schroeder have 
a row?” 

“No, not exactly. Only I got so sick of hearing her talk. She 
nearly talked my head off. She s an awful old bore, really.” 

“She's very fond of you.” 

Sally shrugged her shoulders with a slight impatient listless 
movement. Throughout this conversation, I noticed that she 
avoided my eyes. There was a long pause. I felt puzzled and 
vaguely embarrassed. I began to wonder how soon I could 
make an excuse to go. 

Then the telephone bell rang. Sally yawned, pulled the 
instrument across on to her lap: 

“Hilloo, who's there? Yes, its me. . . . No. , . . No. . . . 
Ive really no idea. . . . Really 1 haven't! I'm to guess?” Her 
nose wrinkled: “Is it Erwin? No? Paul? No? Wait a minute. 
. . . Let me see. . . 

“x\nd now, darling, I must fly!” cried Sally, when, at last, 
the conversation was over: “I'm about two hours late al- 

“Got a new boy friend?” 

But Sally ignored my grin. She ht a cigarette with a faint 
expression of distaste. 

“I've got to see a man on business,” she said briefly. 

“And w’hen shall we meet again?” 

“in have to see, darling. . . . Ive got such a lot on, fust 
at present. ... I shall be out in the country" all day to- 
morrow, and probably the day after. . . . Ill let you know. 
... I may be going to FranWurt quite soon ” 

“Have you got a job there?” 

“No. Not exactly.” Sally's voice was brief, dismissing this 
subject. “I've decided not to try for any film wwk mm the 
autumn, anyhow. I shall take a thorough rest” 

“You seem to have made a lot of new friends.” 

Again, Sally's manner became vague, carefully casual: 

“Yes, I suppose I have. . . . It s probably a reaction from 


all those months at FrL Schroeder s, when I never saw a 

"Well,” I couldn’t resist a malicious grin. "I hope for your 
sake that none of your new friends have got their money in 
the Darmstadter und National.” 

"Why?” She was interested at once. "What’s the matter 
with it?” 

"Do you really mean to say you haven’t heard?” 

"Of course not, I never read the papers, and I haven’t 
been out to-day, yet.” 

I told her the news of the crisis. At the end of it, she was 
looking quite scared. 

"But why on earth,” she exclaimed impatiently, "didn’t you 
tell me all this before? It may be serious.” 

“I’m sorry, Sally. I took it for granted that you’d know 
already . . . especially as you seem to be moving in financial 
circles, nowadays 

But she ignored this little dig. She was frowning, deep in 
her own thoughts: 

“If it was very serious, Leo would have rung up and told 
me . . she murmured at length. And this reflection ap- 
peared to ease her mind considerably. 

We walked out together to the comer of the street, where 
Sally picked up a taxi. 

"It's an awful nuisance living so far off,” she said. "I’m 
probably going to get a car soon.” 

“By the way,” she added just as we were parting, "what 
was it like on Ruegen?” 

“I bathed a lot ” 

“Well, good-bye, darling. ITl see you sometime,” 

“Good-bye, Sally. Enjoy yourself.” 

About a week after this, Sally rang me up: 

“Gan you come round at once, Chris? It’s very important 
I want you to do me a favour ” 

This time, also, I found Sally alone in the flat 


'‘Do you want to earn some money, darling?* she greeted 

“Of course ” 

“Splendid! You see, it s like this. . , ” She was in a fluffy 
pink dressing- wrap and inclined to be breathless: “There s 
a man I know who’s starting a magazine. It’s going to be 
most terribly highbrow and artistic, with lots of mar\^ellous 
modem photographs, ink-pots and girls’ heads upside down 
— ^jnu know the sort of thing. . , . The point is, each number 
is going to take a special country and kind of re\1ew it, with 
articles about the manners and customs, and all that. . . . 
Well, the first country they’re going to do is England and 
they want me to wTite an article on the English Girl . . • 
Of course, I haven’t the foggiest idea what to say, so what I 
thought was: you could write the article in my name and 
get the money — I only want not to disoblige this man who’s 
editing the paper, because he may be terribly useful to me in 
other wavs, later on. . . 

“All right, I’ll try.” 

“Oh, marvellous!” 

“How soon do you want it done?” 

“You see, darling, that’s the whole point. I must have it at 
once. . . . Otherwise it’s no earthly use, because I promised 
it four days ago and I simply must give it him this evening. 
... It needn’t be very long. About five hundred words.” 

“Well, ni do my best. . . 

“Good. That’s wonderful. ... Sit down wherever you 
like. Here’s some paper. You’ve got a pen? Oh, and here’s a 
dictionary, in case there’s a word you can’t spell. ... Ill 
just be having my bath.” 

When, three-quarters of an hour later, Sally came In 
dressed for the day, I had finished. Frankly, I was mther 
pleased with my effort. 

She read it through carefully, a slow frown gathering be- 
tween her beautifully pencilled eyebrows. When she had 
finished, she laid down the manuscript with a sigh: 

“I’m soriy, Chris. It won’t do at all.” 


“Won't do?” I was genuinely taken aback. 

“Of course, I dare say it's very good from a literary point 
of view, and all that. , . 

“Well then, what's wrong with it?” 

“Its not nearly snappy enough.” Sally was quite final. “It's 
not the kind of thing tJais man wants, at all.” 

I shrugged my shoulders; “I'm sorry, SaUy. I did my best. 
But journalism isn't really in my line, you know.” 

There was a resentful pause. My vanity was piqued. 

“My goodness, I know who'll do it for me if I ask himl” 
cried Sally, suddenly jumping up. “Why on earth didn't I 
think of him before?” She grabbed the telephone and dialled 
a number: “Oh, hilloo, Kurt darling. . . .” 

In three minutes, she had explained all about the article. 
Replacing the receiver on its stand, she announced tri- 
umphantly: “That's marvellous! He's going to do it at once. 
. . She paused impressively and added: “That was Kurt 

“Who's he?” 

“You've never heard of him?” This annoyed Sallyj she pre- 
tended to be immensely surprised: “I tliought you took an 
interest in the cinema? He's miles the best young scenario 
writer. He earns pots of money. He's only doing this as a 
favour to me, of course. . . . He says he'll dictate it to his 
secretary while he's shaving and then send it straight round 
to the editor's flat. , . . He's marvellous!” 

“Are you sure it'll be what the editor wants, this time?” 

“Of course it will! Kurt's an absolute genius. He can do 
anything. Just now, he's writing a novel in his spare time. 
He' s so fearfully busy, he can only dictate it while he's having 
breakfast He showed me the first few chapters, the other day. 
Honestly, I think it's easily the best novel I've ever read.” 


“That's the sort of writer I admire,” Sally continued. She 
was careful to avoid my eye. “He's terribly ambitious and 
he works the whole time; and he can write anything — any- 
thing you like: scenarios, novels, plays, poet^, advertise- 


ments. . . . He s not a bit stiick-up about it either. Not like 
these young men who, because they’ve written one book, 
start talking about Art and imagining they’re the most won- 
derful authors in the world. . . . They make me sick. . . 

Irritated as I was with her, I couldn’t help laughing: 

“Since when have you disapproved of me so violently, 


“I don’t disapprove of you” — ^but she couldn’t look me in 
the face — ^“not exactly.” 

“I merely make you sick?” 

“I don’t know what it is- * * You seem to have changed, 
somehow. . . 

“How have I changed?” 

“It’s difficult to explain. . . . You don’t seem to have any 
ener^ or want to get anywhere. You’re so dilettante. It 
annoys me.” 

“I’m sorry.” But my would-be facetious tone sounded 
rather forced. Sally frowned down at her tiny black shoes. 

“You must remember I’m a woman, Christopher. All 
women like men to be strong and decided and following 
out their careers. A woman wants to be motherly to a man 
and protect his weak side, but he must have a strong side too, 
which she can respect. ... If you ever care for a woman, 
I don’t advise you to let her see that you’ve got no ambition. 
Otherwise she’ll get to despise you.” 

“Yes, I see. . . . And that’s tire principle on which you 
dioose your friends — ^your new friends?” 

She flared up at this: 

“It’s very easy for you to sneer at my friends for having 
good business heads. If they’ve got money, it’s because 
they’ve worked for it. ... I suppose you consider yourself 
better than they are?” 

“Yes, Sally, since you ask me — ^if they’re at all as I imagine 
them — I do ” 

“There you go, Christopher! That’s typical of you. That’s 
what annoys me about you: you’re conceited and la2y. If you 
say things like that, you ought to be able to prove them ” 


"‘How does one prove that one's better than somebody else? 
Besides, that s not what I said. I said I considered myself 
better — ^it s simply a matter of taste/' 

Sally made no reply. She lit a cigarette, slightly frowning. 

“You say I seem to have changed," I continued, “To be 
quite frank. I've been thinking the same thing about j/ow." 

Sally didn’t seem surprised: “Have you, Christopher? 
Perhaps you're right. I don't know. ... Or perhaps we've 
neither of us changed. Perhaps we're just seeing each other 
as we really are. We're awfully different in lots of ways, you 

“Yes, I've noticed that." 

“I think,” said Sally, smoking meditatively, her eyes on 
her shoes, “that we may have sort of outgrown each other, 
a bit." 

“Perhaps we have. ...” I smiled: Sally's real meaning 
was so obvious: “At any rate, we needn't quarrel about it, 
need we?" 

“Of course not, darling.” 

There was a pause. Then I said that I must be going. We 
were both rather embarrassed, now, and extra polite. 

“Are you certain you won’t have a cup of coffee?" 

“No, thanks awfully." 

“Have some tea? It’s specially good. I got it as a present." 

“No, thanks \^ery much indeed, Sally. I really must be get- 
ting along." 

“Must you?" She sounded, after all, rather relieved. “Be 
sure and ring me up some time soon, won't you?" 

“Yes, rather.” 

It wasn't until I had actually left the house and was walk- 
ing quickly away up the street that I realized how angrj^ and 
ashamed I felt. What an utter little bitch she is, I thought. 
After all, I told myself, it's only what I've always known she 
was Hke— right from the start. No, that wasn't true: I hadn't 
known it I'd flattered myself — ^why not be frank about it? — 
that she was fond of me* Well, I'd been wrong, it seemed; 


but could I blame her for that? Yet I did blame her, I was 
furious with her; nothing would have pleased me more, at 
that moment, than to see her soundly whipped. Indeed, I 
was so absurdly upset that I began to wonder whether I 
hadn't, all this time, in my own peculiar way, been in love 
with Sally myself. 

But no, it wasn't love either — it was worse. It was the 
cheapest, most childish kind of wounded vanity. Not that I 
cared a curse what she thought of my article — well, just a 
litde, perhaps, but only a very little; my literary self-conceit 
was proof against anything she could say — it was her criti- 
cism of myself. The awful sexual flair women have for taking 
the stuffing out of a man! It was no use telling myself that 
Sally had the vocabulary and mentality of a twelve-year-old 
schoolgirl, that she was altogether comic and preposterous; 
it was no use — I only knew that Fd been somehow made to 
feel a sham. Wasn't I a bit of a sham an\way — though not 
for her ridiculous reasons — with my arty talk to lady pupils 
and my newiy-acquired parlour-socialism? Yes, I was. But 
she knew nothing about that. I could quite easily have im- 
pressed her. That w^as the most humiliating part of the whole 
business; 1 had mis-managed our interview from the very 
beginning. I had blushed and squabbled, instead of being 
wonderful, convincing, superior, fatherly, mature. I had 
tried to compete with her beastily little Kurt on his own 
ground; just the very thing, of course, which Sally had wanted 
and expected me to do! After all these months, I had made 
the one really fatal mistake — I had let her see that I w^as not 
only incompetent but jealous. Yes, vidgarly jealous. I could 
have kicked myself. The mere thought made me prickly with 
shame from head to foot. 

Well, the mischief was done, now% There w^as only one 
thing for it, and that was to forget the whole affair. And of 
course it would be impossible for me ever to see SaUy again. 

It must have been about ten days after this that I was 
visited, one morning, by a small pale dark-haired young man 


who spoke American fluently with a slight foreign accent 
His name, he told me, was George P. Sandars. He had seen 
my English-teaching advertisement in the B.Z am Mittag. 

"\lTien would you like to begin?” I asked him. 

But the young man shook his head hastily. Oh no, he 
hadn^t come to take lessons, at all. Rather disappointed, I 
waited politely for him to explain the reason of his visit. He 
seemed in no hurry to do this. Instead, he accepted a 
cigarette, sat down and began to talk chattily about the 
States. Had I ever been to Chicago? No? Well, had I heard of 
James L. Schraube? I hadn’t? The young man uttered a faint 
sigh. He had the air of being very patient with me, and with 
the world in general. He had evidently been over the same 
ground with a good many other people already. James L. 
Schraube, he explained, was a very big man in Chicago: he 
ovmed a whole chain of restaurants and several cinemas. 
He had two large country houses and a yacht on Lake 
Michigan. And he possessed no less than four cars. By this 
time, I was beginning to drum with my fingers on the table. 
A pained expression passed over the young mans face. He 
excused himself for taking up my valuable time; he had only 
told me about Mr. Schraube, he said, because he thought I 
might be interested — his tone implied a gentle rebuke — and 
because Mr. Schraube, had I known him, would certainly 
have vouched for his friend Sandars’ respectability. How- 
ever ... it couldn’t be helped . . . well, would I lend him 
two hundred marks? He needed the money in order to start 
a business; it was a unique opportunit}% which he would 
miss altogether if he didn’t find the money before to-morrow 
morning. He would pay me back within three days. If I 
gave him the money now he would return that same evening 
with papers to prove that the whole thing was perfectly 

No? Ah well. . . . He didn’t seem unduly surprised. Pie 
rose to go at once, like a business man who has wasted a 
valuable twenty minutes on a prospective customer: the loss, 
he contrived politely to imply, was mine, not his. Already at 


the door, he paused for a moment: Did I happen, by any 
chance, to know some film actresses? He was travelling, as 
a sideline, in a new kind of face-cream specially invented to 
keep the skin from getting dried up by the studio lights. It 
was being used by all the HoUyw^ood stars already, but in 
Europe it was still quite unknown. If he could find half a 
dozen actresses to use and recommend it, they should have 
free sample jars and permanent supplies at half-price. 

After a moment’s hesitation, I gave him Sally’s address. I 
don’t know quite why I did it. Partly, of course, to get rid 
of the young man, who showed signs of wishing to sit down 
again and continue our conversation. Partly, perhaps, out of 
malice. It would do Sally no harm to have to put up with his 
chatter for an hour or two: she had told me that she liked 
men with ambition. Perhaps she would even get a jar of the 
face-cream — if it existed at all. And if he touched her for the 
two hundred marks — ^well, that wouldn’t matter so very 
much, either. He couldn’t deceive a baby. 

“But whatever you do,” I warned him, “don’t say that I 
sent you.” 

He agreed to this at once, with a slight smile. He must 
have had his own explanation of my request, for he didn’t 
appear to find it in the least strange. He raised his hat 
politely as he went downstairs. By the next morning, I had 
forgotten about his visit altogether. 

A few days later, Sally herself rang me up. I had been 
called away in the middle of a lesson to answer the telephone 
and was very ungracious. 

“Oh, is that you, Christopher darling?” 

“Yes. It’s meJ* 

“I say, can vou come round and see me at once?* 


“Oh. . . ” My refusal evidently gave Sally a shock. There 
was a little pause, then she continued, in a tone of unwonted 
humility: “1 suppose you Ve most terribly busy?” 


^es. I am " 

‘Well . . . would you mind frightfully if I came round 
to see you?*' 

nVhat aboutr 

"Darling” — Sally sounded positively desperate — ^"I cant 
possibly explain to you over the telephone. . . . Ifs some- 
thing really serious.” 

"Oh, I see” — I tried to make this as nasty as possible — 
"another magazine article, I suppose?” 

Nevertheless, as soon as Fd said it, we both had to laugh. 

"Chris, you are a brute!” Sally tinkled gaily along 3ie 
wire: then checked herself abruptly: "No, darling — ^this 
time I promise you: it’s most terribly serious, really and truly 
it is.” She paused; tlien impressively added: “And you’re the 
only person who can possibly help.” 

“Oh, all right. ...” I was more than half melted already. 
"Come in an hour.” 

"Well, darling. I’ll begin at the very beginning, shall I? 
• . . Yesterday morning, a man rang me up and asked if he 
could come round and see me. He said it was on very im- 
portant business; and as he seemed to know my name and 
everything of course I said: Yes, certainly, come at once. 
... So he came. He told me his name was Rakowski — ^Paul 
Rakowski — and that he was a European agent of Metro- 
Goldwyn-Mayer and that he’d come to make me an oflEer. He 
said they were looking out for an English actress who spoke 
German to act in a comedy film they were going to shoot on 
the Italian Riviera. He was most frightfully convincing about 
it all; he told me who the director was and the camera-man 
and the art-director and who’d written the script. Naturally, 
I hadn’t heard of any of them before. But that didn’t seem 
so surprising: in fact, it really made it sound much more real, 
because most people would have chosen one of the names 
you see in the newspapers. . . , Anyhow, he said that, now 
he’ d seen me, he was sure I’d be just the person for the part, 


and he could practically promise it to me, as long as the 
test was all right ... so of course I was simply thrilled and 
I asked when the test would be and he said not for a day or 
two, as he had to make arrangements with the Ufa people. 
... So then we began to talk about Holljavood and he told 
me all kinds of stories — suppose they could have been 
things he’d read in fan magazines, but somehow Vm pretty 
sure they weren’t — and then he told me how they make 
sound-effects and how they do the trick-work; he was really 
most awfully interesting and he certainly must have been 
inside a great many studios. . . . Anyhow, when we’d fin- 
ished talking about Hollywood, he started to tell me about 
the rest of America and the people he knew, and about the 
gangsters and about New York. He said he’d only just arrived 
from there and all his luggage was still in the customs at 
Hamburg. As a matter of fact, I had been thinking to myself 
that it seemed rather queer he was so shabbily dressed; but 
after he said that, of course, I thought it was quite natural. 
, . . Well — now you must promise not to laugh at this part 
of the story, Chris, or I simply shan’t be able to tell you — 
presently he started making the most passionate love to me. 
At first I was rather angiy^ with him, for sort of miring busi- 
ness with pleasure; but then, after a bit, I didn’t mind so 
much: he was quite attractive, in a Russian kind of way. 
. . , And the end of it was, he invited me to have dinner 
with him; so we w’ent to Horcher’s and had one of the most 
mar\^ellous dinners I’ve ever had in my life (that’s one con- 
solation); only, when the bill came, he said ‘Oh, by the 
way, darling, could you lend me three hundred marks until 
to-morrow? Ive only got dollar bills on me, and I’ll have 
to get them changed at the Bank.’ So, of course, I gave them 
to him; as bad luck would have it, I had quite a lot of money 
on me, that evening. . . . And then be said; ‘Let’s have a 
bottle of champagne to celebrate your film contract’ So I 
agreed, and I suppose by that time I must have been pretty 
tight because when he asked me to spend the night with him, 
I said Yes* We went to one of those little hotels in the Augs- 


burgerstrasse — I forget its name, but I can find it again, 
easily. ... It was the most ghastly hole. . . . Anyhow, I 
don t remember much more about what happened that eve- 
ning. It was early this morning that I started to think about 
things properly, while he was still asleep; and I began to 
wonder if everything was really quite all right. ... I hadn't 
noticed his underclothes before: they gave me a bit of a 
shock. You'd expect an important film man to wear silk next 
his skin, wouldn’t you? Well, liis were the most extraor- 
dinary kind of stuff Hke camel-hair or something; they looked 
as if they might have belonged to John the Baptist. And then 
he had a regular Woolworth’s tin clip for his tie. It wasn’t 
so much that his things were shabby; but you could see they’d 
never been any good, even when they were new. ... I 
was just making up my mind to get out of bed and take a 
look inside his pockets, when he woke up and it was too late. 
So we ordered breakfast. ... I don’t know if he thought 
I w^as madly in love with him by this time and wouldn’t 
notice, or whether he just couldn’t be bothered to go on 
pretending, but this morning he was like a completely differ- 
ent person — just a common little guttersnipe. He ate his jam 
off die blade of his knife, and of course most of it went on 
to the sheets. And he sucked the insides out of the eggs with 
a most terrific squelching noise. I couldn’t help laughing 
at him, and that made him quite cross. . . . Then he said; 
1 must have beer!’ Well, I said, all right; ring down to the 
office and ask for some. To tell you the truth, I was beginning 
to be a bit frightened of him. He’d started to scowl in the 
most cavemannish way; I felt sure he must be mad. So I 
thought I’d humour him as much as I could. . . . Anyhow, 
he seemed to think I’d made quite a good suggestion, and he 
picked up the telephone and had a long conversation and got 
awfully angry, because he said they refused to send beer up 
to the rooms, I realize now that he must have been holding 
the hook all the time and just acting; but he did it most 
awfully wen, and anyhow I was much too scared to notice 
things much. I thought he’d probably start murdering me 


because he couldn’t get his beer. . . . However, he took it 
quite quietly. He said he must get dressed and go downstairs 
and fetch it himself. All right, I said. . . . Well, I waited 
and waited and he didn’t come back. So at last I rang the 
bell and asked the maid if she’d seen him go out. And she 
said: *Oh yes, the gentleman paid the bill and went 
away about an hour ago. ... He said you weren’t to be 
disturbed.’ I was so surprised, I just said: ‘Oh, right, 
thanks. . . .’ The funny thing was, I’d so absolutely made up 
my mind by this time that he was a loony that I’d stopped 
suspecting him of being a swindler. Perhaps that was what 
he wanted. . . . Anyhow, he wasn’t such a loony, after all, 
because, when I looked in my bag, I found he’d helped him- 
self to all the rest of my money, as well as the change from 
the three hundred marks I’d lent him the night before. . . . 
What really annoys me about the whole business is that I bet 
he thinks I’ll be ashamed to go to the police. Well, I’ll just 
show him he’s wrong 

“I say, Sally, what exactly did this young man look like?” 

“He was about your height. Pale. Dark. You could tell he 
wasn’t a born American; he spoke with a foreign accent 

“Can you remember if he mentioned a man named 
Schraube, who lives in Chicago?” 

“Let’s see . . . Yes, of course he did! He talked about him 
a lot. , . . But, Chris, how on earth did you know?” 

“Well, it’s like this. . . . Look here, Sally, I’ve got a most 
awful confession to make to you. ... I don’t know if you’ll 
ever forgive me. . . /’ 

We went to the Alexanderplatz that same afternoon. 

The interview was even more embarrassing than I had 
expected. For myself at any rate. Sally, if she felt uncom- 
fortable, did not show it by so much as the movement of 
an eyelid. She detailed the facts of the case to the two be- 
spectacled police officials with such brisk bright matter-of- 
factness that one might have supposed she had come to 


complain about a strayed lapdog or an umbrella lost in a bus. 
The two officials — both obviously fathers of families — ^were 
at first inclined to be shocked. They dipped their pens ex- 
cessively in the violet ink, made nervous inhibited circular 
movements with their elbows, before beginning to write, and 
w’ere very curt and gruff. 

“Now about this hotel/’ said the elder of them sternly: 
“I suppose you knew, before going there, that it was an 
hotel of a certain kind?” 

“Well, you didn’t expect us to go to the Bristol, did you?” 
Sally’s tone was very mild and reasonable: “They wouldn’t 
have let us in there without luggage, an3Avay.” 

“Ah, so you had no luggage?” The younger one pounced 
upon this fact triumphantly, as of supreme importance. His 
violet copperplate police-hand began to travel steadily across 
a ruled sheet of foolscap paper. Deeply inspired by his theme, 
he paid not the slightest attention to Sally’s retort: 

“I don’t usually pack a suitcase when a man asks me out 
to dinner.” 

The elder one caught the point, however, at once: 

“So it wasn’t till you were at the restaurant that this young 
man invited you to — er — accompany him to the hotel?” 

“It wasn’t till after dinner.” 

“My dear young lady,” the elder one sat back in his chair, 
very much the sarcastic father, “may I enquire whether it is 
your usual custom to accept invitations of this kind from 
perfect strangers?” 

Sally smiled sweetly. She was innocence and candour it- 

“But, you see, Herr Kommissar, he wasn’t a perfect stranger. 
He was my fiance.” 

That made both of them sit up with a jerk. The younger 
one even made a small blot in the middle of his virgin page 
— ^the only blot, perhaps, to be found in all the spotless dos- 
siers of the Polizeipr^idium. 

“You mean to tell me, FrI. Bowles” — ^but in spite of his 
gruffness, there was already a gleam in the elder one’s eye — 


“You mean to tell me that you became engaged to this man 
when you'd only known him a single afternoon?” 


“Isn't that, well — ^rather unusual?” 

“I suppose it is,” Sally seriously agreed. “But nowadays, 
you know, a girl can't aiEord to keep a man waiting. If he 
asks her once and she refuses him, he may try somebody 
else. It's all these surplus women 

At this, the elder official frankly exploded. Pushing back his 
chair, he laughed himself quite purple in the face. It was 
nearly a minute before he could speak at all. The young one 
was much more decorous; he produced a large handkerchief 
and pretended to blow his nose. But the nose-blowing de- 
veloped into a kind of sneeze which became a gufEaw; and 
soon he too had abandoned all attempt to take Sally seriously. 
The rest of the interview was conducted with comic-opera 
informality, accompanied by ponderous essays in gallantry. 
The elder official, particularly, became quite daring; I think 
they were both sorry that I was present. They wanted her to 

“Now don’t you worry, Frl. Bowles,” they told her, patting 
her hand at parting, “we'll find him for you, if we have to 
turn Berlin inside out to do it!” 

“Well!” I exclaimed admiringly, as soon as we were out 
of earshot, “you do know how to handle them, I must say!” 

SaUy smiled dreamily: she was feeling very pleased with 
herself: “How do you mean, exactly, darling?” 

“You know as well as I do — getting them to laugh like 
that: telling them he was your fiance! It was really inspired!” 

But Sally didn’t laugh. Instead, she coloured a little, look- 
ing down at her feet. A comicaUy guilty, childish expression 
came over her face: 

“You see, Chris, it happened to be quite true 


“Yes, darling ” Now, for the first time, Sally was really 


embarrassed: she began speaking very fast: “I simply 
couldn’t tell you this morning: after everything that’s hap- 
pened, it would have sounded too idiotic for words. ... He 
asked me to marry him while we were at the restaurant, and 
I said Yes. ... You see, I thought that, being in films, he 
was probably quite used to quick engagements, like that: 
after all, in HoU}^ood, it’s quite the usual thing. . . . And, 
as he was an American, I thought we could get divorced again 
easily, any time we wanted to. . . . And it would have been 
a good thing for my career — I mean, if he’d been genuine — 
wouldn’t it? . . . We were to have got married to-day, if it 
could have been managed. ... It seems funny to think of, 

*'But Sally!” I stood still. I gaped at her. I had to laugh: 
"Well really . . . You know, you're the most extraordinary 
creature I ever met in my life!” 

Sally giggled a little, like a naughty child which has unin- 
tentionally succeeded in amusing the grown-ups: 

"I always told you I was a bit mad, didn’t I? Now perhaps 
you’U believe it 

It was more than a week before the police could give us 
any news. Then, one morning, two detectives called to see 
me. A young man answering to our description had been 
traced and was under observation. The police knew his ad- 
dress, but wanted me to identify him before making the 
arrest. Would I come round with them at once to a snack- 
bar in the Kleiststrasse? He was to be seen there, about this 
time, almost every day. I should be able to point him out to 
them in the crowd and leave again at once, without any fuss 
or unpleasantness. 

I didn’t like the idea much, but there was no getting out 
of it now. The snack-bar, when we arrived, was crowded, 
for this was the lunch-hour. I caught sight of the young man 
almost immediately: he was standing at the counter, by the 
tea-um, cup in hand. Seen thus, alone and off his guard, he 


seemed rather pathetic: he looked shabbier and far younger 
— a mere boy. I very nearly said: "He isn t here ” But what 
would have been the use? They’d have got him, anyway. ‘Tes, 
that’s him.” I told the detectives. "Over there.” They nodded. 
I turned and hurried away down the street, feeling guilty 
and telling myself: I’ll never help the police again. 

A few days later, Sally came round to tell me the rest of 
the story: "I had to see him, of course. ... I felt an awful 
brute; he looked so wretched. All he said was: 1 thought 
you were my friend.’ I’d have told him he could keep the 
money, but he’d spent it all, anyway. . . . The police said 
he really had been to the States, but he isn’t American; he’s 
a Pole. ... He won’t be prosecuted, that’s one comfort. The 
doctor’s seen him and he’s going to be sent to a home. I hope 
they treat him decently there. . . 

"So he was a loony, after aU?” 

"I suppose so. A sort of mild one, . . Sally smiled. "Not 
very flattering to me, is it? Oh, and Chris, do you know how 
old he was? You’d never guess!” 

"Round about twenty, I should think.” 


"Oh, rot!” 

“Yes, honestly. . . . The case would have to have been 
tried in the Children’s Court!” 

We both laughed. “You know, Sally,” I said, “what I really 
like about you is that you’re so awfully easy to take in. People 
who never get taken in are so drearj^” 

"So you still like me, Chris darling?” 

“Yes, Sally. I still like you.” 

“I was afraid you’d be angry with me — ^about the other 

“I was. Very.” 

“But you’re not, now?” 

“No. . . I don’t think so.” 

"It’s no good my trying to apologize, or explain, or any- 


thing, ... I get like that, sometimes. ... I expect you 
understand, don t you, Chiis?’' 

“Yes,” I said. “I expect I do.'’ 

I have never seen her since. About a fortnight later, just 
when I was thinking I ought really to ring her up, I got a 
post-card from Paris: “Arrived here last night. Will write 
properly to-morrow. Heaps of love.” No letter followed. A 
month after this, another post-card arrived from Rome, giving 
no address: “Am writing in a day or two,” it said. That was 
six years ago. 

So now I am writing to her. 

When you read this, Sally — ^if you ever do — ^please accept 
it as a tribute, the sincerest I can pay, to yourself and to our 

And send me another post-card. 

(Summer 1931) 

I WAXE early and go out to sit on the verandah in my 
pyjamas. The wood casts long shadows over the fields. Birds 
call with sudden uncanny violence, like alarm-clocks going 
off. The birch-trees hang down laden over the rutted, sandy 
earth of the country road. A soft bar of cloud is moving up 
from the line of trees along the lake. A man with a bicycle 
is watching his horse graze on a patch of grass by the path; 
he wants to disentangle the horse s hoof from its tether-rope. 


He pushes the horse with both hands, but it won t budge. 
And now an old woman in a shawl comes walking with a little 
boy. The boy wears a dark sailor suit; he is very pale and his 
neck is bandaged. They soon turn back. A man passes on a 
bicycle and shouts something to the man with the horse. His 
voice rings out, quite clear yet unintelligible, in the morning 
stillness. A cock crows. The creak of the bicycle, going past. 
The dew on the white table and chairs in the garden arbour, 
and dripping from the heavy lilac. Another cock crows, much 
louder and nearer. And I think I can hear the sea, or very 
distant bells. 

The village is hidden in the woods, away up to the left. 
It consists almost entirely of boarding-houses, in various 
styles of seaside architecture — ^sham Moorish, old Bavarian, 
Taj Mahal, and the rococo doll s house, with white fretwork 
balconies. Behind the woods is the sea. You can reach it 
without going through the village, by a zig-zag path, which 
brings you out abruptly to the edge of some sandy cliffs, 
with the beach below you, and the tepid shallow Baltic lying 
almost at your feet. This end of the bay is quite deserted; 
the official bathing-beach is round the comer of the headland. 
The white onion-domes of the Strand Restaurant at Baabe 
wobble in the distance, behind fluid waves of heat, a kilo- 
metre away. 

In the wood are rabbits and adders and deer. Yesterday 
morning I saw a roe being chased by a Borzoi dog, right 
across the fields and in amongst the trees. The dog couldn't 
catch the roe, although it seemed to be going much the 
faster of the two, moving in long graceful bounds, while the 
roe went bucketing over the earth with wild rigid jerks, like 
a grand piano bewitched. 

There are two people staying in this house, besides myself. 
One of them is an Englishman, named Peter Wilkinson, 
about my own age. The other is a German working-class boy 
from Berlin, named Otto Nowak. He is sixteen or seventeen 
years old, 

Peter — ^as I already call him; we got rather tight the first 


evening, and quickly made friends — is thin and dark and 
ner\’Ous. He wears hom-rimmed glasses. When he gets ex- 
cited, he digs his hands down between his knees and clenches 
them together. Thick veins stand out at the sides of his 
temples. He trembles all over with suppressed, nervous 
laughter, until Otto, rather irritated, exclaims: “Mensch, reg^ 
Didi bloss nicht so aufr 

Otto has a face like a very ripe peach. His hair is fair and 
thick, growing low on his forehead. He has small sparkling 
eyes, full of naughtiness, and a wide, disarming grin, which 
is much too innocent to be true. When he grins, two large 
dimples appear in his peach-bloom cheeks. At present, he 
makes up to me assiduously, flattering me, laughing at my 
jokes, never missing an opportunity of giving me a crafty, 
understanding wink. I think he looks upon me as a potential 
ally in his dealings with Peter. 

This morning w^e all bathed together. Peter and Otto are 
busy building a large sand fort. I lay and watched Peter as 
he worked furiously, enjoying the glare, digging away 
savagely with his child's spade, like a chain-gang convict 
under the eyes of an armed warder. Throughout the long, 
hot morning, he never sat still for a moment. He and Otto 
swam, dug, wrestled, ran races or played witli a rubber foot- 
ball, up and down the sands. Peter is skinny but wiry. In his 
games with Otto, he holds his own, it seems, only by an im- 
ense, furious effort of will. It is Peter's will against Otto's 
body. Otto is his whole body; Peter is only his head. Otto 
moves fluidly, effortlessly; his gestures have the savage, un- 
conscious grace of a cruel, elegant animal. Peter drives him- 
self about, lashing his stiff, ungraceful body with the whip of 
his merciless will. 

Otto is outrageously conceited. Peter has bought him a 
chest-expander, and, with this, he exercises solemnly at all 
hours of the day. Coming into their bedroom, after lunch, 
to look for Peter, I found Otto wrestling with the expander 
like Laocoon, in front of the looking-glass, aU alone: "Look, 
Christoph!" he gasped. "You see, I can do it! All five strands!" 


Otto certainly has a superb pair of shoulders and chest for 
a boy of his age — ^but his body is nevertheless somehow 
slightly ridiculous. The beautiful ripe lines of the torso taper 
away too suddenly to his rather absurd little buttocks and 
spindly, immature legs. And these struggles with the chest- 
expander are daily making him more and more top-heavy. 

This evening Otto had a touch of sunstroke, and went to 
bed early, with a headache. Peter and I walked up to the 
village, alone. In the Bavarian cafe, where the band makes 
a noise like Hell unchained, Peter bawled into my ear the 
story of his life. 

Peter is the youngest of a family of four. He has two sisters, 
both married. One of the sisters lives in the country and 
hunts. The other is what the newspapers call “a popular 
society hostess.” Peter s elder brother is a scientist and ex- 
plorer. He has been on expeditions to the Congo, the New 
Hebrides and the Great Barrier Reef. He plays chess, speaks 
with the voice of a man of sixty, and has never, to the best 
of Peter s belief, performed the sexual act. The only mem- 
ber of the family with whom Peter is at present on speaking 
terms is his hunting sister, but they seldom meet, because 
Peter hates his brother-in-law. 

Peter was delicate, as a boy. He did not go to a preparatory 
school but, when he was thirteen, his father sent him to a 
public school. His father and mother had a row about this 
which lasted until Peter, with his mother s encouragement, 
developed heart trouble and had to be removed at the end 
of his second term. Once escaped, Peter began to hate his 
mother for having petted and coddled him into a funk. She 
saw that he could not forgive her and so, as Peter was the 
only one of her children whom she cared for, she got ill her- 
self and soon afterwards died. 

It was too late to send Peter back to school again, so Mr, 
Wilkinson engaged a tutor. The tutor was a very high-church 
young man who intended to become a priest. He took cold 


baths in winter and had crimpy hair and a Grecian jaw. Mr. 
Wilkinson disliked him from the first, and the elder brother 
made satirical remarks, so Peter threw himself passionately 
on to the tutor s side. The two of them went for walking- 
tours in the Lake District and discussed the meaning of the 
Sacrament amidst austere moorland scenery. This kind of 
talk got them, inevitably, into a complicated emotional 
tangle which was abruptly unravelled, one evening, during 
a fearful row in a bam. Next morning, the tutor left, leaving 
a ten-page letter behind him. Peter meditated suicide. He 
heard later indirectly that the tutor had grown a moustache 
and gone out to Australia. So Peter got another tutor, and 
finally went up to Oxford. 

Hating his father s business and his brother s science, he 
made music and literature into a religious cult. For the first 
year, he liked Oxford very much indeed. He went out to tea 
parties and ventured to talk. To his pleasure and surprise, 
people appeared to be listening to what he said. It wasn’t 
until he had done this often that he began to notice their air 
of slight embarrassment. "Somehow or other,” said Peter, 
"I always struck the wrong note.” 

Meanwhile, at home, in the big Mayfair house, with its 
four bath-rooms and garage for three cars, where there was 
always too much to eat, the Wilkinson family was slowly 
falling to pieces, like something gone rotten. Mr. Wilkinson 
with his diseased kidneys, his whisky, and his knowledge of 
"handling men,” was angry and confused and a bit pathetic. 
He snapped and growM at his children when they passed 
near him, like a surly old dog. At meals nobody ever spoke. 
They avoided each other s eyes, and hurried upstairs after- 
wards to write letters, full of hatred and satire, to intimate 
friends. Only Peter had no friend to write to. He shut himself 
up in his tasteless, expensive bedroom and read and read. 

And now it was the same at Oxford. Peter no longer went 
to tea parties. He worked all day, and, just before the ex- 
aminations, he had a nervous breakdown. The doctor ad- 
vised a complete change of scene, other interests, Peter s 


father let him play at farming for six months in Devonshire, 
then he began to talk of the business. Mr, Wilkinson had 
been unable to persuade any of his other children to take 
even a polite interest in the source of their incomes. They 
were all unassailable in their diJfferent worlds. One of his 
daughters was about to marry into the peerage, the other 
frequently hunted with the Prince of Wales. His elder son 
read papers to the Royal Geographical Society. Only Peter 
hadn't any justification for his e.xistence. The other children 
behaved selfishly, but knew what they wanted. Peter also be- 
haved selfishly, and didn’t know. 

However, at the critical moment, Peter s uncle, his mother’s 
brother, died. This uncle lived in Canada. He had seen Peter 
once as a child and had taken a fancy to him, so he left him 
all his money, not very much, but enough to live on, com- 

Peter went to Paris and began studying music. His teacher 
told him that he would never be more than a good second- 
rate amateur, but he only worked all the harder. He worked 
merely to avoid thinking, and had another nervous break- 
down, less serious than at first. At this time, he was con- 
vinced that he would soon go mad. He paid a visit to London 
and found only his father at home. They had a furious quarrel 
on the first evening; thereafter, they hardly exchanged a 
word. After a week of silence and huge meals, Peter had a 
mild attack of homicidal mania. All through breakfast, he 
couldn’t take his eyes off a pimple on his father’s throat. He 
was fingering the bread-knffe. Suddenly the left side of his 
face began to twitch. It twitched and twitched, so that he 
had to cover his cheek with his hand. He felt certain that 
his father had noticed this, and was intentionally refusing 
to remark on it — ^was, in fact, deliberately torturing him. At 
last, Peter could stand it no longer. He jumped up and 
rushed out of the room, out of the house, into the garden, 
where he flung himself face downwards on the wet lawn. 
There he lay, too frightened to move. After a quarter of an 
hour, the twitching stopped. 


That evening Peter walked along Regent Street and picked 
up a whore. They went back togedier to the girl’s room, and 
talked for hours. He told her the whole story of his life at 
home, gave her ten pounds and left her without even kissing 
her. Next morning a mysterious rash appeared on his left 
thigh. The doctor seemed at a loss to explain its origin, but 
prescribed some ointment. The rash became fainter, but did 
not altogether disappear until last month. Soon after the 
Regent Street episode, Peter also began to have trouble with 
his left eye. 

For some time already, he had played with the idea of con- 
sulting a psychoanalyst. His final choice was an orthodox 
Freudian with a sleepy, ill-tempered voice and very large 
feet. Peter took an immediate dislike to him, and told him so. 
The Freudian made notes on a piece of paper, but did not 
seem offended. Peter later discovered that he was quite unin- 
terested in anything except Chinese art. They met three 
times a week, and each visit cost two guineas. 

After six months Peter abandoned the Freudian, and 
started going to a new analyst, a Finnish lady with white hair 
and a bright conversational manner. Peter found her easy to 
talk to. He told her, to the best of his ability, everything he 
had ever done, ever said, ever thought, or ever dreamed. 
Sometimes, in moments of discouragement, he told her 
stories which were absolutely untrue, or anecdotes collected 
from case-books. Afterwards, he would confess to these lies, 
and they would discuss his motives for telling them, and 
agree that they were very interesting. On red-letter nights 
Peter would have a dream, and this gave them a topic of 
conversation for the next few weeks. The analysis lasted 
nearly two years, and was never completed. 

This year Peter got bored with the Finnish lady. He heard 
of a good man in Berlin. Well, why not? At any rate, it would 
be a change. It was also an economy. The Berlin man only 
cost fifteen marks a visit. 

‘‘And you re still going to him?’’ I asked. 

"No , , Peter smiled. “I can’t afford to, you see.*' 


Last month, a day or two after his arrival, Peter went out 
to Wannsee, to bathe. The water was still chilly, and there 
were not many people about. Peter had noticed a boy who 
was turning somersaults by himself, on the sand. Later the 
boy came up and asked him for a match. They got into con- 
versation. It was Otto Nowak. 

“Otto was quite horrified when I told him about the 
analyst. ‘WTiat!' he said, you give that man fifteen marks a 
day just for letting you talk to him! You give me ten marks 
and ni talk to you aU day, and all night as well!’ ” Peter 
began to shake all over with laughter, flushing scarlet and 
wringing his hands. 

Curiously enough, Otto wasnT being altogether prepos- 
terous when he offered to take the analyst’s place. Like many 
very animal people, he has considerable instinctive powers of 
hesJing — when he chooses to use them. At such times, his 
treatment of Peter is unerringly correct. Peter will be sitting 
at the table, hunched up, his downward-curving mouth 
lined with childhood fears: a perfect case-picture of his 
twisted, expensive upbringing. Then in comes Otto, grins, 
dimples, knocks over a chair, slaps Peter on the back, rubs 
his hands and exclaims fatuously: Va, ja ... so ist die 
Sacher And, in a moment, Peter is transformed. He relaxes, 
begins to hold himself naturally; the tightness disappears 
from his mouth, his eyes lose their hunted look. As long as 
the spell lasts, he is just like an ordinary person. 

Peter tells me that, before he met Otto, he was so terrified 
of infection that he would wash his hands with carbolic 
after picking up a cat. Nowadays, he often drinks out of the 
same glass as Otto, uses his sponge, and will share the same 

Dancing has begun at the Kurhaus and the cafe on the 
lake. We saw the announcements of the first dance two days 
ago, while we were taking our evening walk up the main 
street of the village. I noticed that Otto glanced at the poster 


wistfully, and that Peter had seen him do this. Neither of 
them, however, made any comment. 

Yesterday was chilly and wet. Otto suggested that we 
should hire a boat and go fishing on the lake: Peter was 
pleased with this plan, and agreed at once. But when we 
had waited three quarters of an hour in the drizzle for a 
catch, he began to get irritable. On the way back to the 
shore, Otto kept splashing with his oars — at first because he 
couldn’t row properly, later merely to annoy Peter. Peter got 
ver\’ angiy indeed, and swore at Otto, who sulked. 

After supper, Otto announced that he was going to dance 
at the Kurhaus. Peter took this without a word, in ominous 
silence, the comers of his mouth beginning to drop; and 
Otto, either genuinely unconscious of his disapproval or 
deliberately overlooking it, assumed that the matter was 

After he had gone out, Peter and I sat upstairs in my cold 
room, listening to the pattering of the rain on the window: 

‘1 thought it couldn’t last,” said Peter gloomily. ‘‘This is 
the beginning. You’ll see.” 

“Nonsense, Peter. The beginning of what? It’s quite natural 
that Otto should want to dance sometimes. You mustn’t be 
so possessive.” 

“Oh, I know, I know. As usual, I’m being utterly unreason- 
able. ... All the same, this is the beginning. . . 

Rather to my own surprise the event proved me right. Otto 
arrived back from the Kurhaus before ten o’clock. He had 
been disappointed. There had been very few people there, 
and the band was poor: 

“111 never go again,” he added, with a languishing smile 
at me. “From now on I’ll stay every evening with you and 
Christoph. It’s much more fun when we’re all three together, 
isn’t itF’ 

Yesterday morning, while we were lying in our fort on 
the beach, a little fair-haired man with ferrety blue eyes and 
a small mous^che came up to us and asked us to join in a 


game with him. Otto, always over-enthusiastic about stran- 
gers, accepted at once, so iiat Peter and I had either to be 
rude or follow his example. 

The little man, after introducing himself as a surgeon 
from a Berlin hospital, at once took command, assigning to us 
the places where we were to stand. He was very firm about 
this — instantly ordering me back when I attempted to edge 
a little nearer, so as not to have such a long distance to throw. 
Then it appeared that Peter was throwing in quite the wrong 
way: the little doctor stopped the game in order to demon- 
strate this, Peter was amused at first, and then rather an- 
noyed. He retorted with considerable rudeness, but the doc- 
tor s skin wasn’t pierced. “You hold yourself so stiff,” he 
explained, smiling. “That is an error. You should relax com- 
pletely — like this — ^you understand? Now try again, and I 
will keep my hand on your shoulder-blade to see w^^hether you 
really relax. . . . No. Again you do not!” 

He seemed delighted, as if this failure of Peter’s were a 
special triumph for his own methods of teaching. His eye 
met Otto’s. Otto grinned understandingly. 

Our meeting with the doctor put Peter in a bad temper 
for the rest of the day. In order to tease him, Otto pretended 
to like the doctor very much: “That’s the sort of chap I’d 
like to have for a friend,” he said with a spiteful smile. “A 
real sportsman! You ought to take up sport, Peter! Then 
you’d have a figure like he has!” 

Had Peter been in another mood, this remark would prob- 
ably have made him smile. As it was, he got very angry: 
“You’d better go off with your doctor now, if you like him so 

Otto grinned teasingly. “He hasn’t asked me to — ^yet!” 

Yesterday evening, Otto went out to dance at the Kurhaus 
and didn’t return till late. 

There are now a good many summer visitors to the village. 
The bathing-beach by the pier, with its array of banners, be- 
gins to look like a mediaeval camp. Each family has its own 


enormous hooded wicker beach-chair, and each chair flies 
a little flag. There are the German city-flags — ^Hamburg, Han- 
over, Dresden, Rostock and Berlin, as well as the National, 
Republican and Nazi colours. Each chair is encircled by a 
low sand bulwark upon which the occupants have set in- 
scriptions in fir-cones: Waldesruh. Familie Walter. Stahlhelm. 
Heii Hitler! Many of the forts are also decorated with the 
Nazi swastika. The other morning I saw a child of about five 
years old, stark naked, marching along all by himself with a 
swastika flag over his shoulder and singing ‘‘Deutschland 
uher alles!’ 

The little doctor fairly revels in this atmosphere. Nearly 
ever)?’ morning he arrives, on a missionary visit, to our fort. 
‘Tfou really ought to come round to the other beach,” he tells 
us. ‘Its much more amusing there. Td introduce you to some 
nice girls. The young people here are a magnificent lot! I, as 
a doctor, know how to appreciate them. The other day I was 
over at Hiddensee. Nothing but Jews! Its a pleasure to get 
back here and see real Nordic types!” 

“Let s go to the other beach,” urged Otto. “It’s so dull here. 
There’s hardly anyone about.” 

“You can go if you like,” Peter retorted with angry sarcasm; 
“I’m afraid I should be rather out of place. I had a grand- 
mother who was partly Spanish.” 

But the little doctor won’t let us alone. Our opposition 
and more or less openly expressed dislike seem actually to 
fascinate him. Otto is always betraying us into his hands. One 
day, when the doctor was speaking enthusiastically about 
Hitler, Otto said, “It’s no good your talking like that to Chris- 
toph, Herr Doktor. He’s a communist!” 

This seemed positively to delight the doctor. His ferrety 
blue eyes gleamed with triumph. He laid his hand affec- 
tionately on my shoulder. 

“But you carit be a communist! You cantr 

“Why can’t I?” I asked coldly, moving away. I hate him 
to touch me. 

“Because there isn’t any such thing as communism. It s just 


an hallucination. A mental disease. People only imagine 
that they’re communists. They aren’t really,” 

‘‘What are they, then?” 

But he wasn’t listening. He fixed me with his triumphant, 
ferrety smile. 

“Five years ago I used to think as you do. But my work 
at the clinic has convinced me that communism is a mere 
hallucination. What people need is discipline, self-control. I 
can tell you this as a doctor. I know it from my own experi- 

This morning we were all together in my room, ready to 
start out to bathe. The atmosphere was electric, because Peter 
and Otto were still carrying on an obscure quarrel which 
they had begun before breakfast, in their own bedroom. I 
was turning over the pages of a book, not paying much atten- 
tion to them. Suddenly Peter slapped Otto hard on both 
cheeks. They closed immediately and staggered grappling 
about the room, knocking over the chairs. I looked on, getting 
out of their way as well as I could. It was funny, and, at the 
same time, unpleasant, because rage made their faces strange 
and ugly. Presently Otto got Peter down on the ground and 
began twisting his arm: “Have you had enough?” he kept 
asldng. He grinned: at that moment he was really hideous, 
positively deformed with malice. 1 knew that Otto was glad 
to have me there, because my presence was an extra humilia- 
tion for Peter. So I laughed, as though the whole thing were 
a joke, and went out of tlie room. I walked through the woods 
to Baabe, and bathed from the beach beyond. I felt I didn’t 
want to see either of them again for several hours. 

If Otto wishes to humiliate Peter, Peter in his different 
way, also wishes to humiliate Otto. He wants to force Otto 
into making a certain kind of submission to his will, and tills 
submission Otto refuses instinctively to make. Otto is nat- 
urally and healthily selfish, like an animal. If there are two 
chairs in a room, he 'will take the more comfortable one with- 


out hesitation, because it never even occurs to him to consider 
Peter’s comfort. Peter’s selfishness is much less honest, more 
civilised, more perverse. Appealed to in the right way, he will 
make any sacrifice, however unreasonable and unnecessary. 
But when Otto takes the better chair as if by right, then 
Peter immediately sees a challenge which he dare not refuse 
to accept. I suppose that — given their two natures — ^there is 
no possible escape from this situation. Peter is bound to go 
on fighting to win Otto’s submission. When, at last, he ceases 
to do so, it will merely mean that he has lost interest in Otto 

The really destructive feature of their relationship is its 
inherent quality of boredom. It is quite natural for Peter 
often to feel bored with Otto — they have scarcely a single in- 
terest in common — but Peter, for sentimental reasons, will 
never admit that this is so. When Otto, who has no such 
motives for pretending, says, “It’s so dull here!” I invariably 
see Peter wince and looked pained. Yet Otto is actually far 
less often bored than Peter himself; he finds Peter’s company 
genuinely amusing, and is quite glad to be with him most of 
the day. Often, when Otto has been chattering rubbish for 
an hour without stopping, I can see that Peter really longs for 
him to be quiet and go away. But to admit this would be, in 
Peters eyes, a total defeat, so he only laughs and rubs his 
hands, tacitly appealing to me to support him in his pretence 
of finding Otto inexhaustibly deHghtful and funny. 

On my way back through the woods, after my bathe, I 
saw the ferrety little blond doctor advancing to meet me. It 
was too late to turn back. I said “Good Morning” as politely 
and coldly as possible. The doctor was dressed in running- 
shorts and a sweater; he e3£plained that he had been taking a 
"‘Waldlauf” “But I think I shall turn back now,” he added. 
“Wouldn’t you like to run with me a little?” 

“I m afraid I can’t,” I said rashly, “you see, I twisted my 
ankle a bit yesterday.” 


I could have bitten my tongue out as I saw the gleam of 
triumph in his eyes. "Ah, you’ve sprained your ankle? Please 
let me look at it!” Squirming with dislike, I had to submit to 
his prodding fingers. "But it is notliing, I assure you. You 
have no cause for alarm.” 

As we walked the doctor began to question me about Peter 
and Otto, twisting his head to look up at me, as he delivered 
each sharp, inquisitive little thrust. He was fairly consumed 
with curiosity. 

"My work in the clinic has taught me that it is no use try- 
ing to help this type of boy. Your friend Peter is very generous 
and very well meaning, but he makes a great mistake. This 
type of boy always reverts. From a scientific point of view, 
I find him exceedingly interesting.” 

As though he were about to say something specially mo- 
mentous, the doctor suddenly stood still in the middle of the 
path, paused a moment to engage my attention, and smilingly 

"He has a criminal head!” 

“And you think that people with criminal heads should 
be left to become criminals?” 

"Certainly not. I believe in discipline. These boys ought 
to be put into labour-camps.” 

“And what are you going to do with them when you’ve 
got them there? You say that they can’t be altered, anyhow, 
so I suppose you’d keep them locked up for the rest of their 

The doctor laughed delightedly, as though this were a joke 
against himself which he could, nevertheless, appreciate. 
He laid a caressing hand on my arm: 

‘'You are an idealist! Do not imagine that I don’t under- 
stand your point of view. But it is unscientific, quite un- 
scientific. You and your friend do not understand such boys 
as Otto. I understand them. Every week, one or two such 
boys come to my clinic, and I must operate on them for 
adenoids, or mastoid, or poisoned tonsils. So, you see, I know 
them through and through!” 


"I should have thought it would be more accurate to say 
you knew their throats and ears.” 

Perhaps my German wasn’t quite equal to rendering the 
sense of this last remark. At all events, the doctor ignored it 
completely. “I know this type of boy very well,” he repeated, 
‘It is a bad degenerate type. You cannot make anything out 
of these boys. Their tonsils are almost invariably diseased.” 

There are perpetual little rows going on between Peter and 
Otto, yet I cannot say that I find living with them actually 
unpleasant. Just now, I am very much taken up with my new 
novel. Thinldng about it, I often go out for long walks, alone. 
Indeed, I find myself making more and more frequent ex- 
cuses to leave them to themselves; and this is selfish, because, 
when I am with them, I can often choke off the beginnings of 
a quarrel by changing the subject or making a joke. Peter, 
I know, resents my desertions. “You’re quite an ascetic,” he 
said maliciously the other day, “always withdrawing for 
your contemplations.” Once, when I was sitting in a caf4 
near the pier, listening to the band, Peter and Otto came 
past. “So this is where you’ve been hiding!” Peter exclaimed. 
I saw that, for the moment, he really disliked me. 

One evening, we were all walking up the main street, 
which was crowded with summer visitors. Otto said to Peter, 
with his most spiteful grin: “Why must you always look in 
the same direction as 1 do?” This was surprisingly acute, for, 
whenever Otto turned his head to stare at a girl, Peter’s eyes 
mechanically followed his glance with instinctive jealousy. 
We passed tiae photographer’s window, in which, every day, 
the latest groups snapped by the beach camera-men are dis- 
played, Otto paused to examine one of the new pictures with 
great attention, as though its subject were particularly attrac- 
tive. I saw Peter’s lips contract. He was struggling with him- 
self, but he couldn’t resist his own jealous curiosity — ^he 
stopped too. The photograph was of a fat old man with a 


long beard, waving a Berlin flag. Otto, seeing that his trap 
had been successful, laughed maliciously. 

Invariably, after supper, Otto goes dancing at the Kurhaus 
or the cafe by the lake. He no longer bothers to ask Peter s 
permission to do this; he has established the right to have his 
evenings to himself. Peter and I generally go out too, into 
the village. We lean over the rail of the pier for a long time 
without speaking, staring down at the cheap jewellery of 
the Kurhaus lights reflected in the black water, each busy 
with his own thoughts. Sometimes we go into the Bavarian 
cafe and Peter gets steadily drunk — ^his stem, Puritan mouth 
contracting slightly with distaste as he raises the glass to 
his lips. I say nothing. There is too much to say. Peter, I 
know, wants me to make some provocative remark about 
Otto which will give him the exquisite relief of losing his 
temper. I don t, and we drink — ^keeping up a desultory con- 
versation about books and concerts and plays. Later, when 
we are returning home, Peter s footsteps will gradually 
quicken until, as we enter the house, he leaves me and mns 
upstairs to his bedroom. Often we don t get back till half- 
past twelve or a quarter to one, but it is very seldom that we 
find Otto already there. 

Down by the railway station, there is a holiday home for 
children from the Hamburg slums. Otto has got to know one 
of the teachers from this home, and they go out dancing to- 

f ether nearly every evening. Sometimes the girl, with her 
ttle troop of children, comes marching past the house. The 
children glance up at the windows and, if Otto happens to be 
looking out, indulge in precocious jokes. They nudge and 
pluck at their young teacher s arm to persuade her to look up, 

On these occasions, the girl smiles coyly and shoots one 
glance at Otto from under her eyelashes, while Peter, watch- 
ing behind the curtains, mutters through clenched teeth: 


“Bitch . . . bitch . . . bitch . . ” This persecution annoys 
him more than the actual friendship itsefi. We always seem 
to be running across the children when we are out walking 
in the woods. The children sing as they march — patriotic 
songs about the Homeland — in voices as shrill as birds. From 
far off, we hear them approaching, and have to turn hastily 
in the opposite direction. It is, as Peter says, like Captain 
Hook and the Crocodile. 

Peter has made a scene, and Otto has told his friend that 
she mustn’t bring her troop past the house any more. But now 
they have begun bathing on our beach, not very far from 
the fort. The first morning this happened, Otto’s glance kept 
turning in their direction. Peter was aware of this, of course, 
and remained plunged in gloomy silence. 

“\Miat’s the matter with you to-day, Peter?” said Otto* 
“Why are you so horrid to me?” 

“Horrid to youF’ Peter laughed savagely. 

“Oh, very well then,” Otto jumped up. “I see you don’t 
want me here.” And, bounding over the rampart of our fort, 
he began to run along the beach towards die teacher and 
her children, very gracefully, displaying his figure to the 
best possible advantage. 

Yesterday evening, there was a gala dance at the Kurhaus. 
In a mood of unusual generosity, Otto had promised Peter 
not to be later than a quarter to one, so Peter sat up with a 
book to wait for him. I didn’t feel tired, and wanted to finish 
a chapter, so suggested that he should come into my room 
and wait there. 

I worked. Peter read. The hours went slowly by. Suddenly 
I looked at my watch and saw that it was a quarter past two. 
Peter had dozed off in his chair. Just as I was wondering 
whether I should wake him, I heard Otto coming up the stairs. 
His footsteps sounded drunk. Finding no one in ms room, he 
banged open my door. Peter sat up with a start. 

Otto lolled grinning against the doorpost He made me a 


half-tipsy salute. “Have you been reading all this time?” he 
asked Peter. 

“Yes,” said Peter, very self-controlled. 

“WTiy?” Otto smiled fatuously. 

“Because I couldn't sleep.” 

“Why couldn't you sleep?” 

“You know quite well,” said Peter between his teeth. 

Otto yawned in his most oflEensive manner. “I don't know 
and I don’t care. . . . Don’t make such a fuss.” 

Peter rose to his feet. “God, you little swine!” he said, 
smacking Otto’s face hard with the flat of his hand. Otto 
didn’t attempt to defend himself. He gave Peter an extraor- 
dinarily vindictive look out of his bright little eyes. “Good!” 
He spoke rather thickly. “To-morrow I shall go back to Ber- 
lin.” He turned unsteadily on his heel. 

“Otto, come here,” said Peter. I saw that, in another mo- 
ment, he would burst into tears of rage. He followed Otto 
out on to the landing. “Come here,” he said again, in a sharp 
tone of command. 

“Oh, leave me alone,” said Otto, “I’m sick of you. I want to 
sleep now. To-morrow I’m going back to Berlin.” 

This morning, however, peace has been restored — at a 
price. Otto’s repentance has taken the form of a sentimental 
outburst over his family: “Here I’ve been enjoying myself 
and never thinking of them. . . . Poor mother has to work 
like a dog, and her lungs are so bad. , . . Let’s send her 
some money, shall we, Peter? Let’s send her fifty marks. . . .” 
Otto’s generosity reminded him of his own needs. In addi- 
tion to the money for Frau Nowak, Peter has been talked 
into ordering Otto a new suit, which will cost a hundred and 
eighty, as weE as a pair of shoes, a dressing-gown, and a hat. 

In return for this outlay, Otto has volunteered to break 
off his relations with the teacher. (We now discover that, in 
any case, she is leaving the island to-morrow.) After supper, 
she appeared, walking up and down outside the house. 

“Just let her wait till she’s tired,” said Otto. “I’m not going 
down to her.” 


Presently the girl, made bold by impatience, began to 
whistle. This sent Otto into a frenzy of glee. Throwing open 
the window, he danced up and down, waving his arms and 
making hideous faces at the teacher who, for her part, seemed 
struck dumb with amazement at this extraordinary exhibi- 

"Get away from here!” Otto yelled. "Get out!” 

The girl turned, and walked slowly away, a rather pathetic 
figure, into the gathering darkness. 

"I think you might have said good-bye to her,” said Peter, 
who could afford to be magnanimous, now that he saw his 
enemy routed. 

But Otto wouldn't hear of it. 

"What's the use of all those rotten girls, anyhow? Every 
night they came pestering me to dance with them. , . . And 
you know how I am, Peter — I’m so easily persuaded. . . . 
Of course, it was horrid of me to leave you alone, but what 
could I do? It was all their fault, really. . . 

Our life has now entered upon a new phase. Otto's resolu- 
tions were short-lived. Peter and I are alone together most 
of the day. The teacher has left, and with her, Otto's last 
inducement to bathe with us from the fort. He now goes off, 
every morning, to the bathing-beach by the pier, to flirt and 
play ball with his dancing-partners of die evening. The little 
doctor has also disappeared, and Peter and I are free to 
bathe and loll in the sun as unathletically as we wish. 

After supper, the ritual of Otto's preparations for the dance 
begins. Sitting in my bedroom, I hear Peters footsteps cross 
the landing, light and springy with relief — ^for now comes 
the only time of day when Peter feels himself altogether ex- 
cused from taking any interest in Otto's activities. When he 
taps on my door, I shut my book at once. I have been out 
already to the village to buy half-a-pound of peppermint 
cr^ms. Peter says good-bye to Otto, with a vain lingering 


hope that, perhaps to-night, he will, after all, be punctual: 
"*Till half-past twelve, then. . . r 

‘‘Till one,"" Otto bargains. 

“All right,"" Peter concedes. “Till one. But don"t be late."* 

“No, Peter, I wont be late.” 

As we open the garden gate and cross the road into the 
wood, Otto waves to us from the balcony. I have to be careful 
to hide the peppermint creams under my coat, in case he 
should see them. Laughing guiltily, munching the pepper- 
mints, we take the woodland path to Baabe. We always 
spend our evenings in Baabe, nowadays. We like it better 
than our own village. Its single sandy street of low-roofed 
houses among the pine-trees has a romantic, colonial air; 
it is like a ramshackle, lost settlement somewhere in the 
backwoods, where people come to look for a non-existent 
gold mine and remain, stranded, for the rest of their lives. 

In the little restaurant, we eat strawberries and cream, and 
talk to the young waiter. The waiter hates Germany and 
longs to go to iWerica. **Hier ist nichts los.** During the 
season, he is allowed no free time at all, and in the winter 
he earns nothing. Most of the Baabe boys are Nazis. Two 
of them come into the restaurant sometimes and engage us 
in good-humoured political arguments. They tell us about 
their field-exercises and military games. 

“You’re preparing for war,” says Peter indignantly. On 
these occasions — ^alSiough he has really not the slightest in- 
terest in politics — ^he gete quite heated. 

“Excuse me,” one of the boys contradicts, “that’s quite 
wrong. The Fiihrer does not want war. Our programme 
stands for peace, with honour. AH the same ...” he adds 
wistfully, hds face lighting up, “war can be fine, you know! 
Think of the ancient Greeks!” 

“The ancient Greeks,"’ I object, “didn’t use poison gas,” 

The boys are rather scomfal at this quibble. One of them 
answers loftily. “That’s a purely technical question.” 

At half-past ten we go down, with most of the other in- 


habitants, to the railway station, to watch the arrival of the 
last train. It is generally empty. It goes clanging away 
through the dark woods, sounding its harsh bell. At last it 
is late enough to start home; this time, we take the road. 
Across the meadows, you can see the illuminated entrance of 
the cafe by the lake, where Otto goes to dance. 

“The lights of Hell are shining brightly this evening,” Peter 
is fond of remarking. 

Peter's jealousy has turned into insomnia. He has begun 
taking sleeping tablets, but admits that they seldom have 
any effect. They merely made him feel drowsy next morning, 
after breakfast. He often goes to sleep for an hour or two in 
our fort, on the shore. 

This morning the weather was cool and dull, the sea 
oyster-grey. Peter and I hired a boat, rowed out beyond the 
pier, then let ourseUns drift, gently, away from the land. 
Peter lit a cigarette. He said abruptly: 

“I wonder how much longer this will go on. . . 

“As long as you let it, I suppose." 

“Yes. . . . We seem to have got into a pretty static con- 
dition, don’t we? I suppose there’s no particular reason why 
Otto and I should ever stop behaving to each other as we 
do at present. ...” He paused, added: “Unless, of course, 
I stop giving him money.” 

“\Vhat do you think would happen, then?” 

Peter paddled idly in the water with his fingers. “He’d 
leave me.” 

The boat drifted on for several minutes. I asked: "‘You don’t 
think he cares for you, at all?” 

“At the beginning he did, perhaps. . , . Not now. There’s 
nothing between us now but my cash.” 

“Do you still care for him?” 

“No. ... I don’t know. Perhaps. ... I still hate him, 
sometimes — ^if that’s a sign of caring.” 

“It might be” 


There was a long pause. Peter dried his fingers on his 
handkerchief. His mouth twitched nervously. 

"Well,” he said at last, "what do you advise me to do?^ 

‘What do you want to do?” 

Peter s mouth gave another twitch. 

"I suppose, really, I want to leave him.” 

“Then you’d better leave him.” 

“At once?” 

“The sooner the better. Give him a nice present and send 
him back to Berlin this afternoon.” 

Peter shook his head, smiled sadly: 

“I can t.” 

There was another long pause. Then Peter said: “Tm sorry 
Christopher. . . , You re absolutely right, I know. If I were 
in your place, rd say the same thing. . . . But I can’t. Things 
have got to go on as they are — ^until something happens. They 
can’t last much longer, anyhow. . . . Oh, I know I’m very 
weak. . . .” 

“You needn’t apologise to me,” I smiled, to conceal a 
slight feeling of irritation: “I’m not one of your analysts!” 

I picked up the oars and began to row back towards the 
shore. As we reached the pier, Peter said: 

“It seems funny to think of now — when I first met Otto, I 
thought we should live together for the rest of our lives.” 

“Oh, my God!” The vision of a life with Otto opened be- 
fore me, like a comic inferno. I laughed out loud. Peter 
laughed, too, wedging his locked hands between his knees. 
His face turned from pink to red, from red to purple. His 
veins bulged. We were still laughing when we got out of the 

In the garden the landlord was waiting for us. “What a 
pity!” he exclaimed. “The gentlemen are too late!” He pointed 
over the meadows, in the direction of the lake. We could 
see the smoke rising above the line of poplars, as the little 
train drew out of tie station; “Your friend was obliged to 


leave for Berlin, suddenly, on urgent business. I hoped tibe 
gentlemen might have been in time to see him oflE. What a 

This time, both Peter and I ran upstairs. Peter s bedroom 
was in a terrible mess — all the drawers and cupboards were 
open. Propped up on the middle of the table was a note, in 
Ottos cramped, scrawling hand: 

Dear Peter. Please forgive me I couldn’t stand it any 

longer here so I am going home. 

Love from Otto. 

Don’t be angry. 

(Otto had written it, I noticed it, on a fly-leaf tom out of one 
of Peters psychology books: Beyond the Pleasure-Principle.) 

**Well . . . !” Peters mouth began to twitch. I glanced at 
him nervously, expecting a violent outburst, but he seemed 
fairly calm. After a moment, he walked over to the cupboards 
and began looking through the drawers. “He hasn’t taken 
much,” he announced, at the end of his search. “Only a couple 
of my ties, three shirts — Plucky my shoes don’t fit him! — 
and, let’s see . . . about two hundred marks. . , Peter 
started to laugh, rather hysterically: “Very moderate, on the 

“Do you think he decided to leave quite suddenly?” I 
asked, for the sake of saying something. 

“Probably he did. That would be just like him. . . . Now 
I come to think of it, I told him we were going out in that 
boat, this morning — ^and he asked me if we should be away 
for long. ...” 

X see. ... 

I sat down on Peter’s bed — ^thinking, oddly enough, that 
Otto has at last done something which I rather respect. 

Peters hysterical high spirits kept him going for the rest 
of the morning; at lundi he turned gloomy, and wouldn’t say 
a word. 


*Now I must go and pack,” he told me when we had 

**¥00 re off, too?” 

“Of course.” 

“To Berlin?” 

Peter smiled. “No, Christopher. Don't be alarmed! Only to 
England. . . ” 

“Oh ” 

“There’s a train whichTl get me to Hamburg, late to-night 
I shall probably go straight on, ... I feel Tve got to keep 
travelling until Tm clear of this bloody country. . . 

There was nothing to say. I helped him pack, in silence. 
As Peter put his shaving-mirror into the bag, he asked: “Do 
you remember how Otto broke this, standing on his head?” 

“Yes, I remember.” 

When we had finished, Peter went out on to the balcony 
of his room: ‘There 11 be plenty of whistling outside here, 
to-night,” he said. 

I smiled: “I shall have to go down and console them.” 

Peter laughed: “Yes. You will!” 

I went with him to the station. Luckily, the engine-driver 
was in a hurry. The train only waited a couple of minutes. 

“What shaU you do when you get to London?” I asked. 

Peter s mouth curved down at the comers; he gave me a 
kind of inverted grin: “Look round for another analyst, I 

“Well, mind you beat down his prices a bit!” 

“I will.” 

As the train moved out, he waved his hand: “Well, good- 
bye, Christopher. Thank you for all your moral support!” 

Peter never suggested that I should write to him, or visit 
him at home. I suppose he wants to forget this place, and 
everybody concerned with it. I can hardly blame Mm. 

It was only this evening, turning over the pages of a book 
I have been reading, that I found another note from Otto^ 
slipped between the leaves. 


Please dear Christoph don t you be angry with me 
too because you aren’t an idiot like Peter. When you are 
back in Berlin I shall come and see you because I know 
where you live; I saw the address on one of your letters 
and we can have a nice talk. 

Your loving friend, 


I thought, somehow, that he wouldn t be got rid of quite 
so easily. 

Actually, I am leaving for Berlin in a day oi two, now. I 
thought I should stay on till the end of August, and perhaps 
finish my novel, but, suddenly, the place seems so lonely. I 
miss Peter and Otto, and their daily quarrels, far more than 
I should have expected. And now even Otto s dancing- 
partners have stopped lingering sadly in the twilight, under 
my window. 


The entrance to the Wassertorstrasse was a big stone arch- 
way, a bit of old Berlin, daubed with hammers and sickles 
and Nazi crosses and plastered with tattered bills which 
advertised auctions or crimes. It was a deep shabby cobbled 
street, littered with sprawling children in tears. Youths in 
woollen sweaters circled waveringly across it on racing bikes 
and whooped at girls passing with milk-jugs. The pavement 


was chalk-marked for the hopping game called Heaven and 
Earth. At the end of it, like a tall, dangerously sharp, red 
instrument, stood a church. 

Frau Nowak herself opened the door to me. She looked 
far iller than when I had seen her last, with big blue rings 
under her eyes. She was wearing the same hat and mangy old 
black coat. At first, she didn’t recognise me. 

"Good afternoon, Frau Nowak.” 

Her face changed slowly from poking suspicion to a bril- 
liant, timid, almost girlish smile of welcome: 

"Why, if it isn’t Herr Christoph! Come in, Herr Christoph! 
Come in and sit down.” 

"I’m afraid you were just going out, weren’t you?” 

"No, no, Herr Christoph — ^I’ve just come in; just this min- 
ute.” She was wiping her hands hastily on her coat before 
shaking mine: "This is one of my charring days. I don’t get 
finished till half-past two, and it makes the dinner so late.” 

She stood aside for me to enter. I pushed open the door 
and, in doing so, jarred the handle of the frying-pan on the 
stove which stood just behind it. In the tiny kitchen there was 
barely room for the two of us together. A stifling smell of 
potatoes fried in cheap margarine filled the flat. 

"Come and sit down, Herr Christoph,” she repeated, hast- 
ily doing the honours. "I’m afraid it’s terribly untidy. You 
must excuse that. I have to go out so early and my Crete’s 
such a lazy great lump, though she’s turned twelve. There’s 
no getting her to do anj^thing, if you don’t stand over her all 
the time.” 

The living-room had a sloping ceiling stained with old 
patches of damp. It contained a big table, six chairs, a side- 
board and two large double-beds. The place was so full of 
furniture that you had to squeeze your way into it sideways. 

"Crete!” cried Frau Nowak. "Where are you? Come here 
this minute!” 

"She’s gone out,” came Otto’s voice from the inner room. 

“Otto! Come and see who’s here!” 

“Can’t be bothered. I’m busy mending the gramophone ” 


“Busy, indeed! You! You good-for-nothing! That's a nice 
way to speak to your mother! Come out of that room, do you 
hear me?” 

She had flown into a rage instantly, automatically, with 
astonishing violence. Her face became all nose: thin, bitter 
and inflamed. Her whole body trembled. 

“It doesn't really matter, Frau Nowak,” I said. “Let him 
come out when he wants to. He’ll get all the bigger surprise.” 

“A nice son I've got! Speaking to me like that.” 

She had pulled off her hat and was unpacking greasy par- 
cels from a string bag: “Dear me,” she fussed. “I wonder 
where that child's got to? Always down in the street, she is. 
If I’ve told her once, I've told her a hundred times. Children 
have no consideration.” 

“How has your lung been keeping, Frau Nowak?” 

She sighed: “Sometimes it seems to me it's worse than ever. 
I get such a burning, just here. And when I finish work it's 
as if I was too tired to eat. I come over so bilious. . . . I don’t 
think the doctor s satisfied either. He talks about sending me 
to a sanatorium later in the winter. I was there before, you 
know. But there's always so many waiting to go. . . . Then, 
the flat's so damp at this time of year. You see those marks 
on the ceiling? There's days we have to put a foot-bath under 
them to catch the drips. Of course, they’ve no right to let 
these attics as dwellings at all, really. The Inspector's con- 
demned them time and time again. But what are you to do? 
One must live somewhere. We applied for a transfer over a 
year ago and they keep promising they'll see about it. But 
there's a lot of others are worse off still, I dare say. . . . My 
husband was reading out of the newspaper the other day 
about the English and their Pound. It keeps on falling, they 
say. I don't understand such things, myself. I hope you 
haven't lost any money, Herr Christoph?” 

“As a matter of fact, Frau Nowak, that's partly why I came 
down to see you to-day. I've decided to go into a cheaper 
room and I was wondering if there was anywhere round here 
you could recommend me?” 


"Oh dear, Herr Christoph, I am sorryr 

She was quite genuinely shocked: "But you can^t live in 
this part of the town— a gentleman like you! Oh, no. Tm 
afraid it wouldn’t suit you at all.” 

"I’m not so particular as you think, perhaps. I just want a 
quiet, clean room for about twenty marks a month. It doesn’t 
matter how small it is. I’m out most of the day.” 

She shook her head doubtfully: “Well, Herr Christoph, I 
shall have to see if I can’t think of something. . . 

“Isn’t dinner ready yet, mother?” asked Otto, appearing in 
shirt-sleeves at the doorway of the inner room: “Im nearly 

“How do you expect it to be ready when I have to spend 
the whole morning slaving for you, you great lump of lazi- 
ness!” cried Frau Nowak, shrilly, at the top of her voice. 
Then, transposing without the least pause into her ingratiat- 
ing social tone, she added: “Don’t you see who’s here?” 

“Why . . . it’s Christoph!” Otto, as usual, had begun act- 
ing at once. His face was slowly illuminated by a sunrise of 
extreme joy. His cheeks dimpled with smiles. He sprang for- 
ward, throwing one arm around my neck, wringing my hand: 
“Christoph, you old soul, where have you been hiding all this 
time?” His voice became languishing, reproachful: “We’ve 
missed you so much! Why have you never come to see us?” 

“Herr Christoph is a very busy gentleman,” put in Frau 
Nowak reprovingly: “He’s got no time to waste running after 
a do-nothing like you.” 

Otto grinned, v^inked at me: then he turned reproachfully 
upon Frau Nowak: 

“Mother, what are you thinking of? Are you going to let 
Christoph sit there without so much as a cug of coffee? He 
must be thirsty, after climbing all these stairsr 

‘*What you mean is, Otto, that you re thirsty, don’t you? 
No, thank you, Frau Nowak, I won’t have anything— really. 
And I won’t keep you from your cooking any longer. . . . 
Look here, Otto, will you come out with me now and help 
me find a room? I’ve just been telling your mother that I m 


coming to live in this neighbourhood. . . . You shall have 
your cup of coffee with me outside ” 

“What, Christoph — you’re going to live here, in Hallesches 
Tor!” Otto began dancing with excitement; “Oh, mother, 
won’t that be grand! Oh, I am so pleased!” 

“You may just as well go out and have a look round with 
Herr Christoph, now,” said Frau Nowak. “Dinner won’t be 
ready for at least an hour, yet. You’re only in my way here. 
Not you, Herr Christoph, of course. You’ll come back and 
have something to eat with us, won’t you?” 

“Well, Frau Nowak, it’s very kind of you indeed, but I’m 
afraid I can’t to-day. I shall have to be getting back home.” 

“Just give me a crust of bread before I go, mother,” begged 
Otto piteously. “I’m so empty that my head’s spinning round 
like a top.” 

“All right,” said Frau Nowak, cutting a slice of bread and 
half throwing it at him in her vexation, ‘l^ut don’t blame 
me if there’s nothing in the house this evening when you 
want to make one of your sandwiches. . . . Good-bye, Herr 
Christoph. It was very kind of you to come and see us. If you 
really decide to live near here, I hope you’ll look in often 
. . . though I doubt if you’ll find anything to your liking. 
It wont be what you’ve been accustomed to. . . .” 

As Otto was about to follow me out of the flat she called 
him back. I heard them arguing; then the door shut. I de- 
scended slowly the five flights of stairs to the courtyard. The 
bottom of the court was clammy and dark, although the sun 
was shining on a cloud in the sky overhead. Broken buckets, 
wheels off prams and bits of bicycle tyre lay scattered about 
like things which have fallen down a well. 

It was a minute or two before Otto came clattering down 
the stairs to join me: 

“Mother didn’t like to ask you,” he told me, breathless. “She 
was afraid you’d be annoyed. . . . But I said that I was sure 
you’d far rather be with us, w'here you can do just what you 
like and you know everything’s clean, than in a strange house 
full of bugs. • . . Do say yes, Christoph, please! It’ll be such 


£iin! You and I can sleep in the back room. You can have 
Lothars bed — ^he wont mind. He can share the double-bed 
with Crete. . . . And in the mornings you can stay in bed 
as long as ever you like. If you want. 111 bring your breakfast. 
. . . You will come, won’t you?” 

And so it was settled. 

My first evening as a lodger at the Nowaks was something 
of a ceremony. I arrived with my two suit-cases soon after 
five o’clock, to find Frau Nowak already cooking the evening 
meal. Otto whispered to me that we were to have lung hash, 
as a special treat. 

“I’m afraid you won’t think very much of our food,” said 
Frau Nowak, “after what you’ve been used to. But we’ll do 
our best.” She was all smiles, bubbling over with excitement. 
I smiled and smiled, feeling awkward and in the way. At 
length, I clambered over the living-room furniture and sat 
down on my bed. There was no space to unpack in, and 
nowhere, apparently, to put my clothes. At the living-room 
table, Crete was playing with her cigarette-cards and trans- 
fers. She was a lumpish child of twelve years old, pretty in 
a sugary way, but round-shouldered and too fat. My presence 
made her very self-conscious. She wriggled, smirked and 
kept calling out, in an affected, sing-song, “growm-up” voice: 

“Mummy! Come and look at the pretty flowers!” 

“I’ve got no time for your pretty flowers,” exclaimed Frau 
Nowak at length, in great exasperation: “Here am I, with a 
daughter the size of an elephant, having to slave all by my- 
self, cooking tibe supper!” 

“Quite right, moAer!” cried Otto, gleefully joining in. He 
turned upon Crete, righteously indignant: “Why don’t you 
help her, I should like to know? You’re fat enough. You sit 
around all day doing nothing. Get off that chair this instant, 
do you hear! And put those filthy cards away, or I’ll bum 

He grabbed at the cards with one hand and gave Crete a 


slap across the face with the other. Crete, who obviously 
wasn’t hurt, at once set up a loud, theatrical wail; “Oh, Otto, 
you’ve hurt me!” She covered her face with her hands and 
peeped at me between the fingers. 

**Will you leave that child alone!” cried Frau Nowak shrilly 
from the kitchen. “I should like to know who you are, to 
talk about laziness! And you, Crete, just you stop that howl- 
ing — or m tell Otto to lit you properly, so that you’ll have 
something to cry for. You two between you, you drive me 

“But, mother!” Otto ran into the kitchen, took her round 
the waist and began kissing her: “Poor little Mummy, little 
Mutti, little Muttchen,” he crooned, in tones of the most 
mawkish solicitude. ‘TTou have to work so hard and Otto’s 
so horrid to you. But he doesn’t mean to be, you know — ^he’s 
just stupid. . . . Shall I fetch the coal up for you to-morrow, 
Mummy? Would you like that?” 

“Let go of me, you great humbug!” cried Frau Nowak, 
laugliing and struggling. “I don’t want any of your soft soap! 
Much you care for your poor old mother! Leave me to get on 
with my work in peace.” 

“Otto’s not a bad boy,” she continued to me, when he had 
let go of her at last, “but he’s such a scatterbrain. Quite the 
opposite of my Lothar — ^there’s a model son for you! He’s 
not too proud to do any job, whatever it is, and when he’s 
scraped a few groschen together, instead of spending them 
on himself he comes straight to me and says: ‘Here you are, 
mother. Just buy yourself a pair of warm house-shoes for the 
winter.’” Frau Nowak held out her hand to me with the 
gesture of giving money. Like Otto, she had the trick of 
acting every scene she described. 

“Oh, Lotibar this, Lothar that,” Otto interrupted crossly; 
“It’s always Lothar. But tell me this, mother, which of us 
was it that gave you a twenty-mark note the other day? 
Lothar couldn’t earn twenty marks in a month of Sundays. 
Well, if that’s how you talk, you needn’t expect to get any 
more; not if you come to me on your knees.” 


“You wicked boy/* she was up in arms again in an instant, 
‘liave you no more shame than to speak of such things in 
front of Herr Christoph! Why, if he Imew where that twenty 
marks came from — and plenty more besides — ^he*d disdain 
to stay in the same house with you another minute; and quite 
right, too! And the cheek of you — sapng you gave me that 
money! You know very well that if your father hadn't seen 
the envelope. . . /* 

“That's right!" shouted Otto, screwing up his face at her 
like a monkey and beginning to dance with excitement: 
“That’s just what I wanted! Admit to Christoph that you 
stole it! You’re a thief! You're a thief!" 

“Otto, how dare you!” Quick as fury, Frau Nowak's hand 
grabbed up the lid of a saucepan. I jumped back a pace to 
be out of range, tripped over a chair and sat down hard. 
Crete uttered an aflEected little shriek of joy and alarm. The 
door opened. It was Herr Nowak, come back from his work. 

He was a powerful, dumpy little man, with pointed mous- 
tache, cropped hair and bushy eyebrows. He took in the 
scene with a long grunt which was half a belch. He did not 
appear to understand what had been happening; or perhaps 
he merely did not care, Frau Nowak said nothing to en- 
lighten him. She hung the saucepan-lid quietly on a hook. 
Crete jumped up from her chair and ran to Mm with out- 
stretched arms: ^‘Pappi! Pappi!" 

Herr Nowak smiled down at her, showing two or three 
nicotine-stained stumps of teeth. Bending, he picked her up, 
carefully and expertly, with a certain admiring curiosity, like 
a large valuable vase. By profession he was a furniture- 
remover. Then he held out his hand — ^taking his time about it, 
gracious, not fussily eager to please: 

“Servus, Herr!” 

“Aren’t you glad that Herr ChristopMs come to live with 
us, Pappi?” chanted Crete, perdied on her father s shoulder, 
in her sugary sing-song tones. At this Herr Nowak, as if 
suddenly acquiring new energy, began shaking my hand 
again, much more warmly, and tibumping me on me back: 


“Glad? Yes, of course Im glad!’’ He nodded his head in 
vigorous approval. “Enghsch Man? Anglais, eh? Ha, ha. 
That’s right! Oh, yes, I talk French, you see. Forgotten most 
of it now. Learnt in the war. I was Feldwebel — on the West 
Front. Talked to lots of prisoners. Good lads. All the same as 
us. . . 

“You’re drunk again, father!” exclaimed Frau Nowak in 
disgust. “Whatever will Herr Christoph think of you!” 

“Christoph doesn’t mind; do you, Christoph?” Herr Nowak 
patted my shoulder. 

“Christoph, indeed! He’s Herr Christoph to you! Can’t you 
tell a gentleman when you see one?” 

“I’d much rather you called me Christoph,” I said. 

“That’s right! Christoph’s right! We’re all the same flesh 
and blood. . . . Argent, money — all the same! Ha, ha!” 

Otto took my other arm; “Christoph’s quite one of the 
family, already!” 

Presently we sat down to an immense meal of lung hash, 
black bread, malt coffee and boiled potatoes. In the first 
recklessness of having so much money to spend (I had given 
her ten marks in advance for the week’s board) Frau Nowak 
had prepared enough potatoes for a dozen people. She kept 
shovelling them on to my plate from a big saucepan, until I 
tliought I should suffocate: 

“Have some more, Herr Christoph. You’re eating noth- 

“I’ve never eaten so much in my whole life, Frau Nowak.” 

“Christoph doesn’t like our food,” said Herr Nowak. “Never 
mind, Christoph, you’ll get used to it. Otto was just the same 
when he came back from the seaside. He’d got used to all 
sorts of fine ways, with his Englishman. . . .” 

“Hold your tongue, father!” said Frau Nowak wamingly. 
“Can’t you leave the boy alone? He’s old enough to be able 
to decide for himself what’s right and wrong — ^more shame to 

We were still eating when Lothar came in. He threw his 
cap on the bed, shook hands with me politely but silently, 


with a Kttle bow, and took his place at the table. My presence 
did not appear to surprise or interest him in the least: his 
glance barely met mine. He was, I knew, only twenty; but 
he might well have been years older. He was a man already. 
Otto seemed almost childish beside him. He had a lean, bony, 
peasant's face, soured by racial memory of barren fields. 

“Lothar s going to night-school," Frau Nowak told me 
with pride. “He had a job in a garage, you know; and now 
he wants to study engineering. They won't take you in any- 
where nowadays, unless you've got a diploma of some sort. 
He must show you his drawings, Herr Christoph, when 
you've got time to look at them. The teacher said they were 
very good indeed.” 

“I should like to see them." 

Lothar didn't respond. I sympathised with him and felt 
rather foolish. But Frau Nowak was determined to show him 

“Which nights are your classes, Lothar?" 

“Mondays and Thursdays.” He went on eating, deliber- 
ately, obstinately, without looking at his mother. Then per- 
haps to show that he bore me no ill-will, he added: “From 
eight to ten-thirty.” As soon as he had finished, he got up 
without a word, shook hands with me, making the same small 
bow, took his cap and went out. 

Frau Nowak looked after him and sighed: “He's going 
round to his Nazis, I suppose. I often wish he'd never taken 
up with them at all. They put all kinds of silly ideas into 
his head. It makes him so restl^s. Since he joined them he's 
been a diflFerent boy altogether. . . , Not that I understand 
these politics myself. What I always say is — ^why can’t we 
have the Kaiser back? Those were tihie good times, say what 
you like.” 

“Ach, to hell with your old Kaiser,” said Otto. ‘What we 
want is a communist revolution ” 

“A communist revolution!” Frau Nowak snorted. “The 
idea! The communists are all good-for-nothing lazybones like 
you, who've never done an honest day s work in their lives.” 


^Christoph’s a commuBist,” said Otto. “Aren’t you, Chris- 

“Not a proper one. I’m afraid.” 

Frau Nowak smiled: “What nonsense will you be telling us 
next! How could Herr Christoph be a communist? He’s a 

“What I say is Herr Nowak put down his knife and 

fork and wiped his moustache carefully on the back of his 
hand: “we’re all equal as God made us. You’re as good as 
me; I’m as good as you. A Frenchman’s as good as an Eng- 
lishman; an Englishman’s as good as a German. You under- 
stand what I mean?” 

I nodded. 

“Take the war, now .” Herr Nowak pushed back his 

chair from the table: “One day I was in a wood. All alone, 
you understand. Just walking through the wood by myself, 
as I might be walking down Qie street. . , . And suddenly — 
there before me, stood a Frenchman. Just as if he’d sprung 
out of the earth. He was no further away from me than you 
are now.” Herr Nowak sprang to his feet as he spoke. 
Snatching up the bread-knife from the table he held it before 
him, in a posture of defence, like a bayonet. He glared at 
me from beneath his bushy eyebrows, re-living the scene: 
“There we stand. We look at each other. That Frenchman 
was as pale as death. Suddenly he cries: ‘Don’t shoot me!’ 
Just like that.” Herr Nowak clasped his hands in a piteous 
gesture of entreaty. The bread-loiife was in the way now: 
he put it down on the table. “ ‘Don’t shoot me! I have five 
children.’ (He spoke French, of course: but I could under- 
stand him. I could speak French perfectly in those days; but 
I’ve forgotten some of it now.) Well, I look at him and he 
looks at me. Then I say: ‘Ami.’ (That means Friend.) And 
then we shake hands.” Herr Nowak took my hand in both of 
his and pressed it with great emotion. “And then we begin to 
walk away from each other — ^backwards; I didn’t want him 
to shoot me in the back.” Still glaring in front of him Herr 
Nowak began cautiously retreating backwards, step by step, 


until he collided violently with the sideboard. A framed 
photograph fell off it. The glass smashed. 

“Pappi! Pappi!” cried Crete in delight. “Just look what 
you Ve done!” 

“Perhaps that’ll teach you to stop your fooling, you old 
clown!” exclaimed Frau Nowak angrily. Crete began loudly 
and affectedly laughing, xmtil Otto slapped her face and she 
set up her stagey whine. Meanwhile, Herr Nowak had re- 
stored his wife’s good temper by kissing her and pinching 
her cheek. 

“Cet away from me, you great lout!” she protested laugh- 
ing; coyly pleased that I was present; “Let me alone, you 
stkik of beer!” 

At that time, I had a great many lessons to give. I was out 
most of the day. My pupils were scattered about the fashion- 
able suburbs of the west — ^rich, well-preserved women of 
Frau Nowak s age, but looking ten years younger; they liked 
to make a hobby of a little English conversation on dull 
afternoons when their husbands were away at the office. Sit- 
ting on silk cushions in front of open fireplaces, we discussed 
Foint Counter Point and Ladtj Chatterieys Lover, A man- 
servant brought in tea with buttered toast. Sometimes, when 
they got tired of literature, I amused them by descriptions 
of the Nowak household. I was careful, however, not to say 
that I lived there: it would have been bad for my business 
to admit that I was really poor. The ladies paid me three 
marks an hour; a little reluctantly, having done their best 
to beat me down to two marks fifty* Most of them also tried, 
deliberately or subconsciously, to cheat me into staying 
longer than my time. I always had to keep my eye on the 

Fewer people wanted lessons in the morning; and so it 
happened that I usually got up much later than the rest of 
the Nowak family. Frau Nowak had her charring, Herr 
Nowak went off to his job at the furniture-removers, Lothar, 


who was out of work, was helping a friend with a paper- 
round, Crete went to school. Only Otto kept me company; 
except on the mornings when, with endless nagging, he was 
driven out to the labour-bureau by his mother, to get his 
card stamped. 

After fetching our breakfast, a cup of coffee and a slice 
of bread and dripping, Otto would strip off his pyjamas and 
do exercises, shadow-box or stand on his head. He flexed his 
muscles for my admiration. Squatting on my bed, he told me 

“Did I ever tell you, Christoph, how I saw the Hand?’* 

“No, I don’t think so.” 

“Well, listen. . . . Once, when I was very small, I was 
lying in bed at night. It was very dark and very late. And 
suddenly I woke up and saw a great big black hand stretch- 
ing over the bed. I was so frightened I couldn’t even scream. 
I just drew my legs up under my chin and stared at it. Then, 
after a minute or two, it disappeared and I yelled out. Mother 
came running in and I said: ‘Mother, I’ve seen the Hand.’ 
But she only laughed. She wouldn’t believe it.” 

Otto’s innocent face, with its two dimples, like a bun, had 
become very solemn. He held me with his absurdly small 
bright eyes, concentrating all his narrative powers: 

“And then, Christoph, several years later, I had a job as 
apprentice to an upholsterer. 'W^ell, one day — it was in the 
middle of the morning, in broad daylight — I was sitting 
working on my stool. And suddenly it seemed to go all dark 
in the room and I looked up and there was the Hand, as 
near to me as you are now just closing over me. I felt my 
arms and legs turn cold and I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t 
cry out. The master saw how pale I was and he said: ‘Why, 
Otto, what’s the matter with you? Aren’t you well?* And 
as he spoke to me it seemed as if the Hand drew right away 
from me again, getting smaller and smaller, until it was 
just a little black speck. And when I looked up again the room 
was quite light, just as it always was, and where I’d seen the 
black speck there was a big fly crawling across the ceiling. 


But I was so ill the whole day that the master had to send 
me home.” 

Otto s face had gone quite pale during this recital and, for 
a moment, a really frightening expression of fear had passed 
over his features. He was tragic now; his little eyes bright 
with tears: 

‘'One day I shall see the Hand again. And then I shall 

“Nonsense,” I said, laughing. “Well protect you.” 

Otto shook his head very sadly: 

“Let s hope so, Christoph. But Tm afraid not. The Hand 
will get me in the end.” 

“How long did you stay with the upholsterer?” I asked. 

“Oh, not long. Only a few weeks. The master was so unkind 
to me. He always gave me the hardest jobs to do — and I 
was such a little chap then. One day I got there five minutes 
late. He made a terrible row; called me a verfluchter Hund, 
And do you think I put up with that?” Otto leant forward, 
thrust his face, contracted into a dry monkey-like leer of 
malice, towards me. “Nee, nee! Bei mir nichtr His little eyes 
focussed upon me for a moment with an extraordinary in- 
tensity of simian hatred; his puckered-up features became 
startlingly ugly. Then they relaxed. I was no longer the 
upholsterer. He laughed gaily and innocently, throwing back 
his hair, showing his teeQi; “I pretended I was going to bit 
him. I frightened him, all right!” He imitated the gesture 
of a scared middle-aged man avoiding a blow. He laughed. 

“And then you had to leave?” I asked. 

Otto nodd^. His face slowly changed. He was turning 
melancholy again, 

“What did your father and mother say to that?” 

“Oh, theyVe always been against me. Ever since I was 
small. If there were two crusts of bread, mother would al- 
ways give the bigger one to Lothar. Whenever I complained 
they used to say: ‘Go and work. You're old enough. Get 
your own food. Why should we support you?' ” Otto's eyes 
moistened with the most sincere self-pity: “Nobody iinder- 


stands me here. Nobody s good to me. They all hate me 
really. They wish I was dead ” 

‘‘How can you talk such rubbish, Otto! Your mother cer- 
tainly doesn’t hate you.” 

“Poor mother!” agreed Otto. He had changed his tone at 
once, seeming utterly imaware of what he had just said: “It’s 
terrible. I can’t bear to think of her working like that, every 
day. You know, Christoph, she’s very, very ill. Often, at 
night, she coughs for hours and hours. And sometimes she 
spits out blood. I lie awake wondering if she’s going to die.” 

I nodded. In spite of myself I began to smile. Not that I 
disbelieved what he had said about Frau Nowak. But Otto 
himself, squatting there on the bed, was so animally alive, 
his naked brown body so sleek with health, that his talk of 
death seemed ludicrous, like the description of a funeral by 
a painted clown. He must have understood this, for he 
grinned back, not in the least shocked at my apparent cal- 
lousness. Straightening his legs he bent forward without 
effort and grasped his feet with his hands: “Can you do that, 

A sudden notion pleased him: “Christoph, if I show you 
something, will you swear not to tell a single soul?” 

“All right.” 

He got up and rummaged under his bed. One of the floor- 
boards was loose in the comer by the window: lifting it, he 
fished out a tin box whida had once contained biscuits. The 
tin was full of letters and photographs. Otto spread them 
out on the bed: 

“Mother would bum these if she found them. . . • Look, 
Christoph, how do you like her? Her name’s Hilde. I met her 
at the place where I go dancing. . . . And this is Marie. 
Hasn’t she got beautiful eyes? She’s wild about me — all the 
other boys are jealous. But she’s not really my type.” Otto 
shook his head seriously: “You know, it’s a funny tiling, but 
as soon as I know that a girl’s keen on me, I lose interest in 
her. I wanted to break with her altogether; but she came 
round here and made such a to-do in front of mother. So I 


have to see her sometimes to keep her quiet . . . And here s 
Trude — ^honestly, Christoph, would you believe she was 
twenty-seven? It s a fact! Hasn’t she a marvellous figure? She 
lives in the West End, in a flat of her own! She’s been divorced 
twice. I can go there whenever I like. Here’s a photo her 
brother took of her. He wanted to take some of us two to- 
gether, but I wouldn’t let him. I was afraid he’d sell them, 
Afterwards — ^you can be arrested for it, you know. . . Otto 
smirked, handed me a packet of letters; ‘‘Here, read these; 
they’ll make you laugh. This one’s from a Dutchman. He’s 
got the biggest car I ever saw in my life. I was with him in 
me spring. He writes to me sometimes. Father got wind of 
it, and now he watches out to see if there’s any money in the 
envelopes — ^the dirty dog! But I know a trick worth two of 
that! I’ve told all my friends to address their letters to the 
bakery on the comer. The baker’s son is a pal of mine. . . r 

“Do you ever hear from Peter?” I asked. 

Otto regarded me veiy solemnly for a moment; “Chris- 



“Will you do me a favour?” 

“What is it?” I asked cautiously; Otto always chose the least 
expected moments to ask for a small loan. 

“Please. ...” he was gently reproachful, “please, never 
mention Peter s name to me again. . . 

“Oh, all right,” I said, very much taken aback: “If you’d 
rather not.” 

“You see, Christoph. . . . Peter hurt me very much. I 
thought he was my friend. And then, suddenly, he left me 
— ^all alone. . . 

Down in the murky pit of the courtyard where the fog, 
in this clammy autumn weather, never lifted, the street 
singers and musicians succeeded each other in a performance 
whidb was nearly continuous. There were parties of boys 
with mandolins, an old man who played the concertina and 


a father who sang with his little girls. Easily the favourite 
tune was: Aus der Jugendzeit. I often heard it a dozen times 
in one morning. The father of the girls was paralyzed and 
could only make desperate throttled noises like a donkey; 
but the daughters sang with the energy of fiends: ‘'Sie kommty 
sie kommt nicht me&r they screamed in unison, like de- 
mons of the air, rejoicing in the frustration of mankind. Oc- 
casionally a groschen, screwed in a comer of newspaper, was 
tossed down from a window high above. It hit the pave- 
ment and ricocheted like a bullet, but the little girls never 

Now and then the visiting nurse called to see Frau Nowak, 
shook her head over the sleeping arrangements and went 
away again. The inspector of housing, a pale young man 
with an open collar (which he obviously wore on principle), 
came also and took copious notes. The attic, he told Frau 
Nowak, was absolutely insanitary and uninhabitable. He 
had a slightly reproachful air as he said this, as though we 
ourselves were partly to blame. Frau Nowak bitterly re- 
sented these visits. They were, she thought, simply attempts 
to spy on her. She was haunted by the fear that the nurse or 
the inspector would look in at a moment when the fiat was 
untidy. So deep were her suspicions that she even told lies — 
pretending that the leak in the roof wasn’t serious — ^to get 
them out of the house as quickly as possible. 

Another regular visitor was the Jewish tailor and outfitter, 
who sold clo&es of all kinds on the instalment plan. He was 
small and gentle and very persuasive. All day long he made 
his rounds of the tenements in the district, collecting fifty 
pfennigs here, a mark there, scratching up his precarious 
livelihood, like a hen, from this apparently barren soil. He 
never pressed hard for money; preferring to urge his debtors 
to take more of his goods and embark upon a fresh series of 
payments- Two years ago Frau Nowak had bought a suit 
and an overcoat for Otto for three hundred marks. The suit 
and the overcoat had been worn out long ago, but the money 
was not nearly repaid. Shortly after my arrival Frau Nowak 


invested in clothes for Crete to the value of seventy-five 
marks. The tailor made no objection at all. 

The whole neighbourhood owed him money. Yet he was 
not unpopular: he enjoyed the status of a public character, 
whom people curse without real malice. “Perhaps Lotliar s 
right,” Frau Nowak would sometimes say: "When Hitler 
comes, he’ll show these Jews a thing or two. They won’t be 
so cheeky then.” But when I suggested that Hitler, if he 
got his own way, would remove the tailor altogether, then 
Frau Nowak would immediately change her tone: “Oh, I 
shouldn’t like that to happen. After all, he makes very good 
clothes. Besides, a Jew wiU always let you have time if you’re 
in diflSculties. You wouldn’t catch a Christian giving credit 
like he does. . . . You ask the people round here, Herr 
Christoph: they’d never turn out tiie Jews.” 

Towards evening Otto, who had spent the day in gloomy 
lounging — either lolling about the flat or chatting with his 
friends downstairs at the courtyard entrance — would begin 
to brighten up. When I got back from work I generally found 
him changing already from his sweater and knickerbockers 
into his best suit, with its shoulders padded out to points, 
small tight double-breasted waistcoat and bell-bottomed 
trousers. He had quite a large selection of ties and it took 
him half an hour at least to choose one of them and to knot 
it to his satisfaction. He stood smirking in front of the 
cracked triangle of looking-glass in the kitchen, his pink 
plum-face dimpled with conceit, getting in Frau Nowak’s 
way and disregarding all her protests. As soon as supper was 
over he was going out dancing. 

I generally went out in the evenings, too. However tired I 
was, I couldn’t go to sleep immediately after my evening 
meal: Crete and her parents were often in bed by nine o’clock* 
So I went to the cinema or sat in a cafe and read the news- 
papers and yawned. There was nothing else to do. 

At the end of our street there was a cellar Ichd called the 


Alexander Casino. Otto showed it to me one evening, when 
we happened to leave the house together. You went down 
four steps from the street level, opened the door, pushed 
aside the heavy leather curtain which kept out the draught 
and found yourself in a long, low, dingy room. It was lit by 
red Chinese lanterns and festooned with dusty paper 
streamers. Roimd the walls stood wicker tables and big 
shabby settees which looked like the seats of English third- 
class railway-carriages. At the far end were trellis-work al- 
coves, arboured over with imitation cherry-blossom twined 
on wires. The whole place smelt damply of beer. 

I had been here before: a year ago, in the days when Fritz 
Wendel used to take me on Saturday evening excursions 
round "the dives” of the city. It was all just as we had left it; 
only less sinister, less picturesque, symbolic no longer of a 
tremendous truth about the meaning of existence — because, 
this time, I wasn’t in the least drunk. The same proprietor, 
an ex-boxer, rested his immense stomach on the bar, the same 
hangdog waiter shuflSed forward in his soiled white coat: 
two girls, the very same, perhaps, were dancing together to 
the wailing of the loud-speaker. A group of youths in sweaters 
and leather jackets were playing Sheep’s Head; the spectators 
leaning over to see the caras. A boy with tattooed arms sat 
by the stove, deep in a crime shocker. His shirt was open at 
the neck, with the sleeves rolled up to his armpits; he wore 
shorts and socks, as if about to take part in a race. Over in 
the far alcove, a man and a boy were sitting together. The 
boy had a round childish face and heavy reddened eyelids 
which looked swollen as i£ from lack of sleep. He was relating 
something to the elderly, shaven-headed, respectable-looking 
man, who sat rather unwillingly listening and smoking a 
short cigar. The boy told his story carefully and with great 
patience. At intervals, to emphasise a point, he laid his hand 
on the elderly man’s Imee and looked up into his face, watch- 
ing its every movement shrewdly and intently, like a doctor 
with a nervous patient. 

Later on, I got to know this boy quite well. He was called 


Pieps. He was a great traveller. He ran away from home at 
the age of fourteen because his father, a woodcutter in the 
Thuringian Forest, used to beat him. Pieps set out to walk 
to Hamburg. At Hamburg he stowed away on a ship bound 
for Antwerp and from Antwerp he walked back into Ger- 
many and along the Rhine. He had been in Austria, too, and 
Czechoslovakia. He was full of songs and stories and jokes: 
he had an extraordinarily cheerful and happy nature, sharing 
what he had with his friends and never worrying where his 
next meal was coming from. He was a clever pickpocket and 
worked chiefly in an amusement-hall in the Friedrichstrasse, 
not far from the Passage, which was full of detectives and 
getting too dangerous nowadays. In this amusement-hall 
3iere were punch-balls and peepshows and try-your-grip 
machines. Most of the boys from the Alexander Casino spent 
their afternoons there, while their girls were out working 
the Friedrichstrasse and the Linden for possible pickups. 

Pieps lived together with his two friends, Gerhardt and 
Kurt, in a cellar on the canal-bank, near the station of the 
overhead railway. The cellar belonged to Gerhardt s aunt, 
an elderly Friedrichstrasse whore, whose legs and arms were 
tattooed with snakes, birds and flowers. Gerhardt was a tall 
boy with a vague, silly, unhappy smile. He did not pick 
pockets, but stole from the big department-stores. He had 
never yet been caught, perhaps because of the lunatic 
brazenness of his thefts. Stupidly grinning, he would stuff 
things into his pockets right under the noses of the shop- 
assistants. He gave everything he stole to his aunt, who cursed 
him for his laziness and kept him very short of money. One 
day, when we were together, he took from his pocket a 
brightly coloured lady s leather belt; “Look, Christoph, isn’t 
it pretty?” 

“Where did you get it from?” 

“From Landauers’,” Gerhardt told me. “Why . . * what 
are you smiling at?” 

“You see, the Landauera are friends of mine. It seems 
funny — ^that’s all.” 


At once, Gerhardt's face was the picture of dismay: ^ou 
won't tell them, Christoph, will you?” 

“No,” I promised. “1 won't.” 

Kurt came to the Alexander Casino less often than the 
others. I could understand him better than I could imder* 
stand Pieps or Gerhardt, because he was consciously un- 
happy. He had a reckless, fatal streak in his character, a 
capacity for pure sudden flashes of rage against the hope- 
lessness of his life. The Germans call it Wut. He would sit 
silent in his comer, drinking rapidly, drumming with his 
fists on the table, imperious and sullen. Then, suddenly, he 
would jump to his feet, exclaim: “Ach, Scheissr and go 
striding out. In this mood, he picked quarrels deliberately 
with the other boys, fighting them three or four at a time, 
until he was flung out into the street, half stunned and 
covered with blood. On these occasions even Pieps and Ger- 
hardt joined against him as against a public danger: they hit 
him as hard as anyone else and dragged h'm home between 
them afterwards without the least malice for the black eyes 
he often managed to give them. His behaviour did not ap- 
pear to surprise them in the least. They were all good friends 
again next day. 

By the time I arrived back Herr and Frau Nowak had 
probably been asleep for two or three hours. Otto generally 
arrived later still. Yet Herr Nowak, who resented so much 
else in his son's behaviour, never seemed to mind getting up 
and opening the door to him, whatever the time of night. 
For some strange reason, nothing would induce the Nowaks 
to let either of us have a latchkey. They couldn't sleep imless 
the door was bolted as well as locked. 

In these tenements each lavatory served for four fiats. 
Ours was on the floor below. If, before retiring, I wished to 
relieve nature, there was a second journey to be made 
through the living-room in the dark to the kitchen, skirting 
the table, avoiding the chairs, trying not to coUide with the 


head of the Nowalcs’ bed or jolt the bed in which Lothar and 
Crete were sleeping. However cautiously I moved, Frau 
Nowak would wake up: she seemed to be able to see me in 
the dark, and embarrassed me with polite directions: “No, 
Herr Christoph — not there, if you please. In the bucket on 
the left, by the stove.” 

Lying in bed, in the darkness, in my tiny comer of the 
enormous human warren of the tenements, I could hear, with 
uncanny precision, every sound which came up from the 
courtyard below. The shape of the court must have acted as 
a gramophone-hom. There was someone going downstairs: 
our neighbour, Herr Muller, probably: he had a night-shift 
on the railway. I listened to his steps getting fainter, flight by 
flight; then they crossed the court, clear and sticky on the 
wet stone. Straining my ears, I heard, or fancied I heard, the 
grating of the key in the lock of the big street door. A mo- 
ment later, the door closed with a deep, hollow boom. And 
now, from the next room, Frau Nowak had an outburst of 
coughing. In the silence which followed it, LothaFs bed 
crewed as he turned over muttering someth ‘ng ind'stinct and 
threatening in his sleep. Somewhere on the other side of the 
court a baby began to scream, a window was slammed to, 
something very heavy, deep in the innermost recesses of the 
building, thudded dully against a wall. It was alien and mys- 
terious and uncanny, like sleeping out in the jungle alone. 

Simday was a long day at the Nowaks. There was nowhere 
to go in this wretched weather. We were all of us at home. 
Crete and Herr Nowak were watching a trap for sparrows 
which Herr Nowak had made and fixSl up in the window. 
They sat there, hour by hour, intent upon it. The string 
which worked the trap was in Crete’s hand. Occasionally, 
they giggled at each other and looked at me. I was sitting 
on the opposite side of the table, frowning at a piece of papar 
on which I had written; “But, Edward, can’t you seeF" I was 
trying to get on with my novel. It was about a family who 


lived in a large country house on unearned incomes and were 
veiy unhappy. They spent their time explaining to each other 
why they couldn’t enjoy their lives; and some of the reasons 
— ^diough I say it myself — ^were most ingenious. Unfor- 
tunately I found myself taking less and less interest in my 
unhappy family: the atmosphere of the Nowak household 
was not very inspiring. Otto, in the inner room with the door 
open, was amusing himself by balancing ornaments on the 
turntable of an old gramophone, which was now minus 
sound-box and tone-arm, to see how long it would be before 
they flew off and smashed. Lothar was filing keys and mend- 
ing locks for the neighbours, his pale sullen face bent over 
his work in obstinate concentration. Frau Nowak, who was 
cooking, began a sermon about the Good and the Worthless 
Brother: “Look at Lothar. Even when he’s out of a job he 
keeps himself occupied. But all you’re good for is to smash 
things. You’re no son of mine.” 

Otto lolled sneering on his bed, occasionally spitting out 
an obscene word or making a farting noise widi his lips. 
Certain tones of his voice were maddening: they made one 
want to hurt him — and he knew it. Frau Nowak’s shrill scold- 
ing rose to a scream: 

“I’ve a good mind to turn you out of the house! What have 
you ever done for us? When there’s any work going you’re 
too tired to do it; but you’re not too tired to go gallivanting 
about half the night — ^you wicked unnatural good-for- 
nothing. . , 

Otto sprang to his feet, and began dancing about the room 
with cries of animal triumph. Frau Nowak picked up a piece 
of soap and flung it at him. He dodged, and it smashed the 
window. After this Frau Nowak sat down and began to cry. 
Otto ran to her at once and began to soothe her with noisy 
kisses. Neither Lothar nor Herr Nowak took much notice 
of the row. Herr Nowak seemed even rather to have enjoyed 
it: he winked at me slyly. Later, the hole in the window was 
stopped with a piece of cardboard. It remained unmended; 
adding one more to the many draughts in the attic. 


During supper, we were all jolly. Herr Nowak got up 
from the table to give imitations of the different ways in 
which Jews and Catholics pray. He fell down on his knees 
and bumped his head severd times vigorously on the ground, 
gabbling nonsense which was supposed to represent Hebrew 
and Latin prayers: “Kool)wotchka, koolyvotchka, kooly- 
votchka. Amen.” Then he told stories of executions, to the 
horror and delight of Crete and Frau Nowak: 'William the 
First — ^the old William — ^never signed a death-warrant; and 
do you know why? Because once, quite soon after he’d come 
to me throne, there was a celebrated murder-case and for a 
long time the judges couldn’t agree whether the prisoner 
was guilty or innocent, but at last they condemned him to 
be executed. They put him on the scaffold and the executioner 
took his axe — so; and swung it — like this; and brought it 
dowm: Kemack! (They’re all tramed men, of course: You or 
I couldn’t cut a man’s head off with one stroke, if they gave 
us a thousand marks.) And the head fell into the basket — 
flop!” Herr Nowak rolled up his eyes, let his tongue hang out 
from the comer of his mouth and gave a really most vivid 
and disgusting imitation of the decapitated head: ‘‘And 
then the head spoke, all by itself, and said: ‘I am innocent!’ 
( Of course, it was only the nerves; but it spoke, just as plainly 
as I’m speaking now.) 1 am innocent!’ it said. . . . And a 
few months later, another man confessed on his death-bed 
that he’d been the real murderer. So, after that, William 
never signed a death-warrant again!” 

In the Wassertorstrasse one week was much like another. 
Our leaky stuffy little attic smelt of cooking and bad drains. 
When the living-room stove was alight, we could hardly 
breathe; when it wasn’t we froze. The weather had turned 
very cold. Frau Nowak tramped the streets, when she wasn’t 
at work, from the clinic to the board of health offices and 
back again; for hours she waited on benches in draughty 
corridors or puzzled over complicated application-forms. The 


doctors couldn’t agree about her case. One was in favour 
of sending her to a sanatorium at once. Another thought she 
was too far gone to be worth sending at all — and told her so. 
Another assured her that there was nothing serious the mat- 
ter: she merely needed a fortnight in the Alps. Frau Nowak 
listened to all three of them with the greatest respect and 
never failed to impress upon me, in describing these inter- 
views, that each was the kindest and cleverest professor to 
be found in the whole of Europe. 

She returned home, coughing and shivering, with sodden 
shoes, exhausted and semi-hysterical. No sooner was she 
inside the flat than she began scolding at Crete or at Otto, 
quite automatically, like a clockwork doll unwinding its 

‘‘You mark my words — ^youll end in prison! I wish Td 
packed you off to a reformatory when you were fourteen. It 
might have done you some good. . . . And to think that, in 
my whole family, we Ve never had anybody before who wasn t 
respectable and decent!” 

“Ycm respectable!” Otto sneered: “When you were a girl 
you went around with every pair of trousers you could 

“I forbid you to speak to me like that! Do you hear? I for- 
bid you! Oh, I wish Td died before I bore you, you wicked, 
unnatural child!” 

Otto skipped around her, dodging her blows, wild with 
glee at the row he had started. In hS excitement he pulled 
hideous grimaces. 

“He's mad!” exclaimed Frau Nowak: look at him 

now, Herr Christoph. I ask you, isn't he just a raving mad- 
man? I must take him to the hospital to be examined.” 

This idea appealed to Otto's romantic imagination. Often, 
when we were alone together, he would tell me with tears in 
his eyes: 

I shan t be here much longer, Christoph. My nerves are 
breakmg down. Very soon they'll come and take me away. 
Theyll put me in a strait-waistcoat and feed me through a 


rubber tube. And when you come to visit me, I shan't know 
who you are." 

Frau Nowak and Otto were not the only ones with "nerves " 
Slowly but surely the Nowaks were breaking down my 
powers of resistance. Every day I found the smell from the 
kitchen sink a little nastier: every day Ottos voice when 
quarrelling seemed harsher and his mother s a little shriller. 
Crete s whine made me set my teeth. When Otto slammed a 
door I winced irritably. At nights I couldn't get to sleep un- 
less I was half drunk. Also, I was secretly worrying about 
an unpleasant and mysterious rash: it might be due to Frau 
Nowak's cooking, or worse. 

I now spent most of my evenings at the Alexander Casino. 
At a table in the comer by the stove I wrote letters, talked 
to Pieps and Cerhardt or simply amused myself by watching 
the o&er guests. The place was usually very quiet. We all 
sat round or lounged at the bar, waiting for something to hap- 
pen. No sooner came the sound of Qie outer door than a 
dozen pairs of eyes were turned to see what new visitor 
would emerge from behind the leather curtain. Cenerally, 
it was only a biscuit-seller with his basket, or a Salvation 
Army girl with her collecting-box and tracts. If the biscuit- 
seller had been doing good business or was drunk he w'ould 
throw dice with us for packets of sugar-wafers. As for the 
Salvation Army girl, she rattled her way drably round the 
room, got nothing and departed, vdthout making us feel in 
the least uncomfortable, fiadeed, she had become so much 
a part of the evening's routine that Cerhardt and Pieps did 
not even make jokes about her when she %vas gone. Then an 
old man would shuffle in, whisper something to the barman 
and retire with him into the room behind the bar. He was a 
cocaine-addict. A moment later he reappeared, raised his 
hat to all of us with a vague courteous gesture, and shuffled 
out. The old man had a nervous tic and kept shaking his head 
all the time, as if saying to Life: No. No. No. 

Sometimes the police came, looking for wanted criminals 
or scaped reformatory boys. Their visits were usually ex- 


pected and prepared for. At any rate you could always, as 
Pieps explained to me, make a last-minute exit through the 
lavatory window into the courtyard at the back of the house: 
“But you must be careful, Christoph,” he added: “Take a 
good big jump. Or you'll fall down the coal-chute and into 
the cellar, I did, once. And Hamburg Werner, who was 
coming after me, laughed so much that tibe bulls caught him.” 

On Saturday and Sunday evenings the Alexander Casino 
was full. Visitors from the West End arrived, like ambas- 
sadors from another country. There were a good number 
of foreigners — Dutchmen mostly, and Englishmen. The Eng- 
lishmen talked in loud, high, excited voices. They discussed 
communism and Van Gogh and the best restaurants. Some of 
them seemed a little scared: perhaps they expected to be 
knifed in this den of thieves. Pieps and Gerhardt sat at their 
tables and mimicked their accents, cadging drinks and 
cigarettes. A stout man in horn spectacles asked: “Were you 
at that delicious party Bill gave for the negro singers?” And 
a young man with a monocle murmured; “All the poetry in 
the world is in that face.” I knew what he was feeling at 
that moment: I could sympathise with, even envy him. But 
it was saddening to know that, two weeks hence, he would 
boast about his exploits here to a select party of clubmen 
or dons — ^warmed discreet smilers around a table furnished 
with historic silver and legendary port. It made me feel 

At last the doctors made up their minds: Frau Nowak was 
to be sent to the sanatorium rfter all: and quite soon — shortly 
before Christmas. As soon as she heard this she ordered a 
new dress from the tailor. She was as excited and pleased as 
if she had been invited to a party: “The matrons are always 
very particular, you know, Herr Christoph. They see to it 
that we keep ourselves neat and tidy. If we don't we get 
punished — ^and quite right, too. . . . Im sure I shall enjoy 
being there,” Frau Nowak sighed, “if only I can stop i?ayself 


worrying about tbe family. What theyTl do when Im gone, 
goodness only knows. They re as helpless as a lot of sheep. 
. . In the evenings she spent hours stitching warm flannel 
underclothes, smiling to herself, like a woman who is ex- 
pecting a child. 

On the afternoon of my departure Otto was very depressed. 

“Now you’re going, Christoph, I don’t know what’ll hap- 
pen to me. Perhaps, six months from now, I shan’t be alive 
at all.” 

“You got on all right before I came, didn’t you?* 

“Yes . . . but now mothers going, too. I don’t suppose 
father’ll give me anything to eat.” 

“What rubbish!” 

“Take me with you, Christoph. Let me be your servant 
I could be very useful, you know. I could cook for you and 
mend your clothes and open the door for your pupils. . . 
Otto’s eyes brightened as he admired himself in this new 
role. “I’d wear a little white jacket— or perhaps blue would 
be better, with silver buttons. . . 

“I’m afraid you’re a luxury I can’t afford.” 

“Oh, but, Christoph, I shouldn’t want any wages, of 
course.” Otto paused, feeling that this offer had been a bit 
too generous. ‘TThat is,” he added cautiously, “only just a 
mark or two to go dancing, now and then.” 

“I’m very sorry.” 

We were interrupted by the return of Frau Nowak. She 
had come home early to cook me a farewell meal. Her string- 
bag was full of things she had bought; she had tired herself 
out carrying it. She shut the kitchen-door behind her with 
a sigh and began to bustle about at once, her nerves on edge* 
ready for a row. 

“Why, Otto, you’ve let the stove go out! After I specially 
told you to keep an eye on it! Oh, dear, can’t I rely on any- 
body in this house to help me with a single thing?” 

“Sorry, mother,” said Otto. “I forgot” 


“Of course you forgot! Do you ever remember anything? 
You forgotr Frau Nowak screamed at him, her features 
puckered into a sharp little stabbing point of fury: “IVe 
worked myself into my grave for you, and that s my thanks. 
When Vm gone I hope your father'll turn you out into the 
streets. We'll see how you like that! You great, lazy, hulking 
lump! Get out of my sight, do you hear! Get out of my 

“All right. Christoph, you hear what she says?" Otto turned 
to me, his face convulsed with rage; at that moment the re- 
semblance between them was quite startling; they were like 
creatures demoniacally possessed. “I'll make her sorry for 
it as long as she lives!^' 

He turned and plunged into the inner bedroom, slamming 
the rickety door behind him. Frau Nowak turned at once to 
the stove and began shovelling out the cinders. She was 
trembling all over and coughing violently. I helped her, put- 
ting firewood and pieces of coal into her hands; she took 
them from me blindly, without a glance or a word. Feeling, 
as usual, that I was only in the way, I went into the living- 
room and stood stupidly by the window, wishing that I 
could simply disappear. 1 had had enough. On the window- 
sill lay a stump of pencil. I picked it up and drew a small 
circle on the wood, thinking: I have left my mark. Then I 
remembered how I had done exactly the same thing, years 
ago, before leaving a boarding-house in North Wales. In 
the inner room all was quiet. I decided to confront Otto's 
sulks. I had still got my suit-cases to pack. 

When I opened the door Otto was sitting on his bed. He 
was staring as if hypnotized at a gash in his left wrist, from 
which the blood was trickling down over his open palm and 
spilling in big drops on the floor. In his right hand, be- 
tween finger and thumb, he held a safety-razor blade. He 
didn't resist when I snatched it from him. The wound itself 
was nothing much; I bandaged it with his handkerchief. 
Otto seemed to turn faint for a moment and lolled against 
my shoulder. 


*‘How on earth did you manage to do it?" 

*‘1 wanted to show her " said Otto. He was very pale. He 
had evidently given himself a nasty scare: “You shouldn't 
have stopped me, Christoph." 

“You little idiot,” I said angrily, for he had frightened me, 
too: “One of these days you'll really hurt yourself — ^by mis- 

Otto gave me a long, reproachful look. Slowly his eyes filled 
with tears. 

“What does it matter, Christoph? I'm no good. . . . 
What'll become of me, do you suppose, when I'm older?” 

“Yoii'U get work.” 

“Work. , . .” The very thought made Otto burst into tears. 
Sobbing violently, he smeared the back of his hand across 
his nose. 

I pulled out the handkerchief from my pocket. “Here. 
Take this ” 

"Thanks, Christoph. ...” He wiped his eyes mournfully 
and blew his nose. Then something about the handkerchief 
itself caught his attention. He began to examine it, listlessly 
at first, then with extreme interest. 

“Why, Christoph,” he exclaimed indignantly, “this is one 
of minel” 

One afternoon, a few days after Christmas, I visited the 
Wassertorstrasse again. The lamps were alight already, as 
I turned in under the archway and entered the long, damp 
street, patched here and there with dirty snow. Weak yellow 
gleams shone out from the cellar shops. At a hand-cart under 
a gas-flare, a cripple was selling vegetables and fruit A 
crowd of youths, with raw, sullen faces, st<x>d watching two 
boys fighting at a doorway: a girl’s voice screamed excitedly 
as one of them tripped and fell. Crossing the muddy court- 
yard, inhali ng the moist, familiar rotteimess of the tene- 
ment buildings, I thought: Did I really ever live here? Al- 
ready, with my comfortable bed-sitting room in the West 


End and my excellent new job, I had become a stranger to 
the slums. 

The lights on the Nowaks' staircase were out of order: it 
was pitch-dark. I groped my way upstairs without much 
difficult)^ and banged on their door. I made as much noise as 
I could because, to judge from the shouting and singing and 
shrieks of laughter within, a party was in progress. 

“Who's there?" bawled Herr Nowak's voice. 


“Aha! Christoph! Anglais! Englisch Man! Come in! Come 

The door was flung open. Herr Nowak swayed unsteadily 
on the threshhold, with arms open to embrace me. Behind 
him stood Crete, shaking like a jelly, with tears of laughter 
pouring down her cheeks. There was nobody else to be seen. 

“Good old Christoph!" cried Herr Nowak, thumping me on 
the back. “I said to Crete: I know he'll come. Christoph 
won't desert us!" With a large burlesque gesture of welcome 
he pushed me violently into the living-room. The whole place 
was fearfully untidy. Clothing of various kinds lay in a con- 
fused heap on one of the beds; on the other were scattered 
cups, saucers, shoes, knives and forks. On the sideboard was 
a nying-pan full of dried fat. The room was lighted by three 
candles stuck into empty beer-bottles. 

“All light's been cut off," explained Herr Nowak, with a 
negligent sweep of his arm; “The bill isn't paid. . . . Must 
pay it sometime, of course. Never mind — ^it's nicer like this, 
isn't it? Come on, Crete, let's light up the Christmas tree."’ 

The Christmas tree was the smallest I had ever seen. It 
was so tiny and feeble that it could only carry one candle, at 
the very top. A single thin strand of tinsel was draped around 
it. Herr Nowak dropped several lighted matches on the floor 
before he could get the candle to bum. If I hadn't stamped 
them out the table-cloth might easily have caught fire. 

“Where are Lothar and Otto?" I asked. 

“Don't know. Somewhere about. . , . They don't show 
themselves mudb, nowadays — ^it doesn't suit them, here. 


Never mind, were quite happy by ourselves, aren’t we, 
Crete?” Herr Nowak executed a few elephantine dance-steps 
and began to sing: 

“O Tannenbaum! O Tannenbaum! . . . Come on, Chris- 
toph, all together now! Wie treu sind Deine Blatterr 

After this was over I produced my presents: cigars for Herr 
Nowak, for Crete chocolates and a clockwork mouse. Herr 
Nowak then brought out a bottle of beer from under the bed. 
After a long search for his spectacles, which were finally 
discovered hanging on the water-tap in the kitchen, he read 
me a letter which Frau Nowak had written from the sanator- 
ium. He repeated every sentence three or four times, got 
lost in the middle, swore, blew his nose, and picked his ears. 
I could hardly understand a word. Then he and Crete be- 
gan playing with the clockwork mouse, letting it run about 
the table, shrieking and roaring whenever it neared the edge. 
The mouse was such a success that my departure was man- 
aged briefly, without any fuss. “Good-bye, Christoph. Come 
again soon,” said Herr Nowak and turned back to the table 
at once. He and Crete were bending over it with the eager- 
ness of gamblers as I made my way out of the attic. 

Not long after this I had a call from Otto himself. He had 
come to ask me if I would go with him the next Sunday to see 
Frau Nowak. The sanatorium had its monthly visiting-day: 
there would be a special bus running from Hallesches Tor. 

“You needn’t pay for me, you know,” Otto added grandly. 
He was fairly shining with self-satisfaction. 

“That’s very handsome of you, Otto. ... A new suit?” 

“Do you like it?” 

“It must have cost a good bit.” 

"“Two hundred and fifty marks.” 

“My word! Has your ship come home?” 

Otto smirked: ‘T’m seeing a lot of Tmde now. Her uncle’s 
left her some money. Perhaps, in the spring, we’ll get mar- 


“Congratulations. ... I suppose you’re still living at 

“Oh, I look in there occasionally,” Otto drew down the 
comers of his mouth in a grimace of languid distaste, “but 
father s always drunk ” 

“Disgusting, isn’t it?” I mimicked his tone. We both 

“My goodness, Christoph, is it as late as that? I must be 
getting along. . . . Till Sunday. Be good.” 

We arrived at the sanatorium about midday. 

There was a bumpy cart-track winding for several kilo- 
metres through snowy pine-woods and then, suddenly, a 
Gothic brick gateway like the entrance to a churchyard, 
with big red buildings rising behind. The bus stopped. Otto 
and I were the last passengers to get out. We stood stretching 
ourselves and blinking at the bright snow: out here in the 
country everything was dazzling white. We were all very 
stiff, for the bus was only a covered van, with packing-cases 
and school-benches for seats. The seats had not shifted much 
during the journey, for we had been packed together as 
tightly as books on a shelf. 

And now the patients came running out to meet us — awk- 
ward padded figures muffled in shawls and blankets, stum- 
bb’ng and slithering on the trampled ice of the path. They 
were in such a hurry that their blundering charge ended in 
a slide. They shot skidding into the arms of their friends 
and relations, who staggered under the violence of the col- 
lision. One couple, amid shrieks of laughter, had tumbled 



“So you’ve really come! How well you’re looking!” 

“Of course we’ve come, mother! What did you expect?” 
Frau Nowak disengaged herself from Otto to shake hands 
with me. “How do you do, Herr Christoph?” 


She looked years younger. Her plump, oval, innocent face, 
lively and a trifle crafty, with its small peasant eyes, was 
like the face of a young girl. Her cheeks were brightly 
dabbed with colour. She smiled as though she could never 

‘"Ah, Herr Christoph, how nice of you to come! How nice 
of you to bring Otto to visit me!” 

She uttered a brief, queer, hysterical little laugh. We 
mounted some steps into the house. The smell of the warm, 
clean, antiseptic building entered my nostrils like a breath 
of fear. 

“They Ve put me in one of the smaller wards,” Frau Nowak 
told us. “There’s only four of us altogether. We get up to all 
sorts of games.” Proudly throwing open the door, she made 
the introductions: “This is Muttchen — she keeps us in order! 
And this is Ema. And this is Erika — our baby!” 

Erika was a weedy blonde girl of eighteen, who giggled: 
“So here’s the famous Otto! WeVe been looking forward to 
seeing him for weeks!” 

Otto smiled subtly, discreetly, very much at his ease. His 
brand new brown suit was vulgar beyond words; so were 
his lilac spats and his pointed yellow shoes. On his finger 
was an enormous signet-ring with a square, chocolate- 
coloured stone. Otto was extremely conscious of it and kept 
posing his hand in graceful attitudes, glancing down furtively 
to admire the effect. Frau Nowak simply couldn’t leave him 
alone. She must keep hugging him and pinching his cheeks. 

“Doesn’t he look well!” she exclaimed. “Doesn’t he look 
splendid! Why, Otto, you’re so big and strong, I believe you 
could pick me up with one hand!” 

Old Muttchen had a cold, they said. She wore a bandage 
round her throat, tight under the high collar of her old- 
fashioned black dress. She seemed a nice old lady, but some- 
how slightly obscene, like an old dog with sores. She sat on 
the edge of her bed with the photographs of her chOdren 
and grandchildren on the table beside her, like prizes she 
had won. She looked slyly pleased, as though she were glad 


to be so ill. Frau Nowak told us tliat Muttcben had been 
three times in this sanatorium already. Each time she had 
been discharged as cured, but within nme months or a year 
she would have a relapse and have to be sent back again. 

"Some of the cleverest professors in Germany have come 
here to examine her,’* Frau Nowak added, with pride, ‘l)ut 
you always fool them, don t you, Muttchen dear?"’ 

The old lady nodded, smiling, like a clever child which is 
being praised by its elders. 

"And Ema is here for the second time,” Frau Nowak con- 
tinued. “The doctors said she'd be all right; but she didn't 
get enough to eat. So now she's come back to us, haven't 
you, Ema?” 

“Yes, I've come back,” Ema agreed. 

She was a skinny, bobbed-haired woman of about thirty- 
five, who must once have been very feminine, appealing, 
wistful, and soft. Now, in her extreme emaciation, she 
seemed possessed by a kind of desperate resolution, a cer- 
tain defiance. She had immense, dark, hungry eyes. The 
wedding-ring was loose on her bony finger. When she talked 
and became excited her hands flitted tirelessly about in 
sequences of aimless gestures, like two shrivelled moths. 

“My husband beat me and then ran away. The night he 
went he gave me such a thrashing that I had the marks after- 
wards for months. He was such a great strong man. He nearly 
killed me.” She spoke calmly, deliberately, yet with a cer- 
tain suppressed excitement, never taking her eyes from my 
face. Her hungry glance bored into my brain, reading eagerly 
what I was thiiik^g. “I dream about him now, sometimes,” 
she added, as if faintly amused. 

Otto and I sat down at the table while Frau Nowak fussed 
around us with coffee and cakes which one of the sisters had 
brought. Everything which happened to me to-day was 
curiously without impact: my senses were muffled, insulated, 
functioning as if in a vivid dream. In this calm, white room, 
with its great windows looking out over the silent snowy 
pine-woods — ^the Christmas-tree on the table, the paper 


festoons above the beds, the nailed-up photographs, the 
plate of heart-shaped chocolate biscuits — ^these four women 
lived and moved. My eyes could explore every comer of their 
world: the temperature-charts, the fire extinguisher, the 
leather screen by the door. Dressed daily in their best clothes, 
their clean hands no longer pricked by the needle or 
roughened from scrubbing, they lay out on the terrace, lis- 
tening to the wireless, forbidden to talk. Women being 
shut up together in this room had bred an atmosphere which 
was faintly nauseating, like soiled linen locked in a cup- 
board without air. They were playful with each other and 
shrill, like overgrown schoolgirls. Frau Nowak and Erika 
indulged in sudden furtive bouts of ragging. They plucked at 
•each other s clothes, scuffled silently, exploded into shrilly 
strained laughter. They were showing ofiF in front of us. 

“You don t know how we Ve looked forward to to-day,"^ 
Ema told me. “To see a real live man!” 

Frau Nowak giggled. 

“Erika was such an innocent girl until she came here. . . . 
You didn’t know anything, did you, Erika?” 

Erika sniggered. 

“Tve learnt enough since then. , . 

“Yes, I should think you have! Would you believe it, Herr 
Christoph — ^her aunt sent her this little mannikin for Christ- 
mas, and now she takes it to bed with her every night, be- 
cause she says she must have a man in her bed!” 

Erika laughed boldly. “Well, it s better than nothing, isn’t 


She winked at Otto, who rolled his eyes, pretending to be 

After lunch Frau Nowak had to put in an hours rest. So 
Ema and Erika took possession of us for a walk in the grounds. 
“Well show them the cemetery first,” Eraa said. 

The cemetery was for pet animals belonging to the sana- 
torium staff which had died. There were about a dozen 


Kttle crosses and tombstones, pencilled with mock-heroic 
inscriptions in verse. Dead birds were buried there and 
white mice and rabbits, and a bat which had been found 
frozen after a storm. 

‘It makes you feel sad to think of them lying there, doesn’t 
it?” said Ema. She scooped away the snow from one of the 
graves. There were tears in her eyes. 

But, as we walked away down the path, both she and 
Erika were very gay. We laughed and threw snowballs at 
each other. Otto picked up Erika and pretended he was 
going to throw her into a snowdrift. A little further on we 
passed close to a summerhouse, standing back from the path 
on a mound among the trees. A man and a woman were just 
coming out of it. 

“That’s Frau Klemke,” Ema told me. “She’s got her hus- 
band here to-day. Just diink, that old hut’s the only place in 
the whole grounds where two people can be alone to- 
gether. . , .” 

“It must be pretty cold in this weather.” 

“Of course it is! To-morrow her temperature will be up 
again and she’ll have to stay in bed for a fortnight. . . . But 
who cares! If I were in her place I’d do the same myself.” 
Erna squeezed my arm: “We’ve got to live while we’re young, 
haven’t we?” 

“Of course we have!” 

Ema looked up quickly into my face; her big dark eyes 
fastened on to mine like hooks; I could imagine I felt them 
pulling me down. 

“I’m not really a consumptive, you know, Christoph. . . • 
You didn’t think I was, did you, just because I’m here?” 

“No, Ema, of course I didn’t.” 

“Lots of the girls here aren’t. They just need looking after 
for a bit, like me. . . . The doctor says that if I take care of 
myself I shall be as strong as ever I was. . . . And what do 
you think the first thing is I shall do when they let me out 



"First I shall get my divorce, and then I shall find a hus- 
band.” Ema laughed, with a Idnd of bitter triumph. "That 
wonT take me long — can promise you!” 

After tea we sat upstairs in the ward. Frau Nowak had 
borrowed a gramophone so that we could dance. I danced 
with Ema. Erika danced with Otto. She was tomboyish and 
clumsy, laughing loudly whenever she slipped or trod on 
his toes. Otto, sleekly smiling, steered her backwards and for- 
wards with skill, his shoulders hunched in the fashionable 
chimpanzee stoop of Hallesches Tor. Old Muttchen sat look- 
ing on from her bed. When I held Ema in my arms I felt 
her shivering all over. It was almost dark now, but nobody 
suggested turning on the light. 

After a while we stopped dancing and sat round in a circle 
on the beds. Frau Nowak had begun to talk about her child- 
hood days, when she had lived with her parents on a farm 
in East Prussia. "We had a saw-mill of our own,” she told 
us, “and thirty horses. My father s horses were the best in 
the district; he won prizes with them, many a time, at the 
show. . . The ward was quite dark now. The windows 
were big pale rectangles in the darkness. Erna, sitting beside 
me on the bed, felt down for my hand and squeezed it; then 
she reached behind me and drew my arm round her body. 
She was trembling violently. “Christoph . . she whisper^ 
in my ear, 

". . . and in the summer time,” Frau Nowak was saying, 
"w^e used to go dancing m the big bam do\ra by the 
river. . . 

My mouth pressed against Ema s hot, dry lips. I had no 
particular sensation of contact: all this w’as part of the long, 
rather sinister symbolic dream which I seemed to have been 
dreaming throughout the day. “Fm so happy, this eve- 
ning. . . Ema whispered. 


‘The postmaster s son used to play the fiddle,” said Frau 
Nowak. “He played beautifully ... it made you want to 
cry, . . .” 

From the bed on which Erika and Otto were sitting came 
sounds of scuffling and a loud snigger: “Otto, you naughty 
boy. . . . Im surprised at you! I shall tell your mother!” 

Five minutes later a sister came to tell us that the bus 
was ready to start. 

“My word, Christoph,” Otto whispered to me, as we were 
putting on our overcoats, “I could have done anything I 
liked with that girl! I felt her all over. . . . Did you have a 
good time with yours? A bit skinny, wasn’t she — ^but I bet 
she’s hot stiffl!” 

Then we were clambering into the bus with the other pas- 
sengers. The patients crowded round to say good-bye. 
Wrapped and hooded in their blankets, they might have 
been the members of an aboriginal forest tribe. 

Frau Nowak had begun crying, though she tried hard to 

“Tell father I’ll be back soon. . . .” 

“Of course you will, mother! You’ll soon be well now. 
You’ll soon be home.” 

“It’s only a short time . . •” sobbed Frau Nowak; the tears 
running down over her hideous frog-like smile. And sud- 
denly she started coughing — ^her body seemed to break in 
half like a hinged doll. Clasping her hands over her breast, 
she uttered short yelping coughs like a desperate injured 
animal. The blanket slipped back from her head and shoul- 
ders: a wisp of hair, working loose from the knot, was get- 
ting into her eyes — she shook her head blindly to avoid it. 
Two sisters gently tried to lead her away, but at once she 
began to struggle furiously. She wouldn’t go with them. 

“Go in, mother,” begged Otto. He was almost in tears him- 
self. “Please go in! You’ll catch your death of cold!” 

“Write to me sometimes, won’t you, Christoph?” Ema was 


clutching my hand as though she were drowning. Her eyes 
looked up at me with a terrifying intensity of unashamed 
despair. ‘‘It doesn’t matter if it s only a postcard . . . just sign 
your name.” 

“Of course I will. . . 

They all thronged round us for a moment in the little 
circle of light from the panting bus, their lit faces ghastly 
like ghosts against the black stems of the pines. This was 
the climax of my dream: the instant of nightmare in which 
it would end. I had an absurd pang of fear that they were 
going to attack us — a gang of terrifyingly soft muffled shapes 
— clawing us from our seats, dragging us hungrily dowm, in 
dead silence. But the moment passed. They drew back — 
harmless, after all, as mere ghosts — into the "darkness, while 
our bus, with a great churning of its wheels, lurched for- 
ward towards the city, through the deep unseen snow. 


One night in October 1930, about a month after the Elec- 
tions, there was a big row on the Leipzigerstrasse. Gangs of 
Nazi roughs turned out to demonstrate against the Jews. 
They manhandled some dark-haired, large-nosed pedestrians, 
and smashed the windows of all the Jewish shops. The in- 
cident was not, in itself, very remarkable; there were no 
deaths, very little shooting, not more than a couple of dozen 
arrests. I remember it only because it was my first introduc- 
tion to Berlin politics, ^ 

Frl. Mayr, of course, was delighted: “Serve them right! 


she exclaimed. ‘‘This town is sick with Jews. Turn over any 
stone, and a couple of them will crawl out. They’re poisoning 
the very water we drink! They’re strangling us, they’re rob- 
bing us, they’re sucking our life-blood. Look at all the big 
department stores: Wertheim, K.D.W., Landauers’. Who 
owns them? Filthy thieving Jews!” 

“The Landauers are personal friends of mine,” I retorted 
icily, and left the room before Frl. Mayr had time to think 
of a suitable reply. 

This wasn’t strictly true. As a matter of fact, I had never 
met any member of the Landauer family in my life. But, be- 
fore leaving England, I had been given a letter of introduc- 
tion to them by a mutual friend. I mistrust letters of intro- 
duction, and should probably never have used this one, if it 
hadn’t been for Frl. Mayr’s remark. Now, perversely, I de- 
cided to write to Frau Landauer at once. 

Natalia Landauer, as I saw her, for the first time, three 
days later, was a schoolgirl of eighteen. She had dark fluffy 
hair; far too much of it — ^it made her face, with its sparkling 
eyes, appear too long and too narrow. She reminded me of 
a young fox. She shook hands straight from the shoulder in 
the modem student manner. “In here, please.” Her tone 
was peremptory and brisk. 

The sitting-room was large and cheerful, pre-War in taste, 
a little over-furnished. Natalia had begun talking at once, 
with terrific animation, in eager stumbling English, showing 
me gramophone records, pictures, books. I wasn’t allowed 
to look at anything for more than a moment; 

“You like Mozart? Yes? Oh, I also! Vairy much! . . , These 
picture is in the Kronprinz Palast. You have not seen it? I 
shall show you one day, yes? . . . You are fond of Heine? 
Say quite truthfully, please.” She looked up from the book- 
case, smiling, but with a certain schoolmarm severity: “Read. 
It’s beautiful, I find.” 

I hadn’t been in the house for more than quarter of an 


hour before Natalia had put aside four books for me to take 
with me when I left — Tonio Kroger, Jacobsen's stories, a 
volume of Stefan George, Goethe’ s letters. ‘"You are to tell 
me your truthful opinion,” she warned me. 

Suddenly, a maid parted the sliding glass doors at the end 
of the room, and we found ourselves in the presence of Frau 
Landauer, a large, pale woman with a mole on her left cheek 
and her hair brushed back smooth into a knot, seated 
placidly at the dining-room table, filling glasses from a samo» 
var with tea. There were plates of ham and cold cut wurst 
and a bowl of those thin wet slippery sausages w’hich squirt 
you with hot water when their skins are punctured by a fork; 
as well as cheese, radishes, pumpernickel and bottled beer. 
*Tou will drink beer,” Natalia ordered, returning one of the 
glasses of tea to her mother. 

Looking round me, I noticed that the few available wall- 
spaces between pictures and cupboards were decorated with 
eccentric life-size figures, maidens with flying hair or oblique- 
eyed gazelles, cut out of painted paper and fastened down 
with drawing-pins. They made a comically ineffectual pro- 
test against the bourgeois solidity of the mahogany furniture. 
I knew, without being told, that Natalia must have designed 
them. Yes, she’d made them and fixed them up there for a 
party; now she wanted to take them down, but her mother 
wouldn’t let her. They had a little argument about this — 
evidently part of the domestic routine. “Oh, but they’re 
tairrible, I find!” cried Natalia, in English. “I think they’re 
very pretty,” replied Frau Landauer placidly, in German, 
without raising her eyes from the plate, her mouth full of 
pumpernickel and radish. 

As soon as we had finished supper, Natalia made it clear 
that I was to say a formal good-night to Frau Landauer. We 
then returned to the sitting-room. She began to cross-examine 
me. Where was my room? How much was I paying for it? 
When I told her, she said immediately that I’d chosen quite 
the wrong district (Wilmersdorf was far better), and that 
I’d been swindled. I could have got exactly the same thing, 


with ruiming water and central heating thrown in, for the 
same price. “You should have asked me,” she added, ap- 
parently quite forgetting that we’d met that evening for the 
first time: “I should have found it for you myself ” 

“Your friend tells us you are a writer?” Natalia challenged 

“Not a real writer,” I protested. 

“But you have written a book? Yes?” 

Yes, I had written a book. 

Natalia was triumphant: “You have written a book and you 
say you are not a writer. You are mad, I think.” 

Then I had to tell her the whole history of All the Con- 
spirators, why it had that title, what it was about, when it 
was published, and so forth. 

“You will bring me a copy, please.” 

“I haven’t got one,” I told her, with satisfaction, “and it’s 
out of print.” 

This rather dashed Natalia for the moment, then she 
sniffed eagerly at a new scent: “And this what you will write 
in Berlin? Tell me, please.” 

To satisfy her, I began to tell the story of a story I had 
written years before, for a college magazine at Cambridge. I 
improved it as much as possible extempore, as I went along. 
Telling this story again quite excited me — so much that I 
began to feel that the idea in it hadn’t been so bad after all, 
and that I might really be able to rewrite it. At the end of 
every sentence, Natalia pressed her lips tight together and 
nodded her head so violently that the hair flopped up and 
down over her face. 

“Yes, yes,” she kept saying. “Yes, yes.” 

It was only after some minutes that I realized she wasn’t 
taking in anything I said. She evidently couldn’t understand 
my English, for I was talking much faster now, and not 
choosing my words. In spite of her tremendous devotional 
effort of concentration, I could see that she was noticing the 
way I parted my hair, and that my tie was worn shiny at the 
knot. She even flashed a furtive glance at my shoes. I pre- 


tended, however, not to be aware of all this. It would have 
been rude to stop short and most unkind to spoil Natalias 
pleasure in the mere fact that I was talking so intimately to 
her about something which really interested me, although 
we were practically strangers. 

When I had finished, she asked at once: ‘"And it will be 
ready — ^how soon?” For she had taken possession of the 
story, together with all my other affairs. I answered that I 
didn’t know. I was lazy. 

“You are lazy?” Natalia opened her eyes mockingly. “So? 
Then I am sorry. I can’t help you.” 

Presently, I said that I must go. She came with me to the 
door: “And you will bring me this story soon,” she persisted. 


“How soon?” 

“Next week,” I feebly promised. 

It was a fortnight before I called on the Landauers again. 
After dinner, when Frau Landauer had left the room, Natalia 
informed me that we were to go together to the cinema. 
“We are the guests of my mother.” As we stood up to go, she 
suddenly grabbed two apples and an orange from the side- 
board and stuffed them into my pockets. She had evidently 
made up her mind that I was suffering from undernourish- 
ment. I protested weakly. 

“When you say another word, I am angry,” she warned me. 

“And you have brought it?” she asked, as we were leaving 
the house. 

Knowing perfectly well that she meant the story, I made 
my voice as innocent as I could: “Brought what?” 

“You know. What you promise.” 

“I don’t remember promising anything ” 

“Don’t rememberF" Natalia laughed scornfully. “Then I’m 
sorry. I can’t help you.” 

By the time we got to the cinema, she had forgiven me, 
however. The big film was a Pat and Patachos. Natalia re- 
marked severely: “You do not like this kind of film, I think? 
It isn’t some thin g clever enough for you?” 


I denied that I only liked “clever” films, but she was 
sceptical: “Good. We shall see.” 

All through the film, she kept glancing at me to see if I 
was laughing. At first, I laughed exaggeratedly. Then, get- 
ting tired of this, I stopped laughing altogether. Natalia got 
more and more impatient with me. Towards the end of the 
film, she even began to nudge me at moments when I should 
laugh. No sooner were the lights turned up, than she pounced: 

‘Tou see? I was right. You did not like it, no?” 

“I liked it very much indeed.” 

“Oh yes, I believe! And now say truthfully.” 

“I have told you. I liked it.” 

“But you did not laugh. You are sitting always with your 
face so . . Natalia tried to imitate me, “and not once 

“I never laugh when I am amused,” I said. 

“Oh yes, perhaps! That shall be one of your English cus- 
toms, not to laugh?” 

“No Englishman ever laughs when he"s amused.” 

‘Tfou wish I believe that? Then I will tell you your English- 
men are mad.” 

“That remark is not very original.” 

“And must always my remarl^ be so original, my dear sir?"’ 

“When you are with me, yes.” 


We sat for a little in a cafe near the Zoo Station and ate 
ices. The ices were lumpy and tasted slightly of potato. Sud- 
denly, Natalia began to talk about her parents: 

“I do not understand what this modem books mean when 
they say: the mother and father always must have quarrel 
with the children. You know, it would be impossible that I 
can have quarrel with my parents. Impossible.” 

Natalia looked hard at me to see whether I believed this. 
I nodded. 

“Absolute impossible,” she repeated solemnly. “Because I 
know that my father and my mother love me. And so they 
are thinking always not of themselves but of what is for me 


the best. My mother, you know, she is not strong. She is 
having sometimes the most tairrible headaches. And then, of 
course, I cannot leave her alone. Vairy often, I would like to 
go out to a cinema or theatre or concert, and my mother, she 
say nothing, but I look at her and see that she is not well, and 
so I say No, I have change my mind, I will not go. But never 
it happens that she say one word about the pain she is suf- 
fered. Never.” 

(When next 1 called on the Landauers, I spent two marks 
fifty on roses for Natalia s mother. It was worth it. Never once 
did Frau Landauer have a headache on an evening when I 
proposed going out with Natalia.) 

"‘My father will always that I have the best of every- 
thing,” Natalia continued. “My father will always that I 
say: My parents are rich, I do not need to think for money.” 
Natalia sighed: “But 1 am diflEerent than this. I await always 
that the worst will come. I know how things are in Germany 
to-day, and suddenly it can be that my father lose all. You 
know, that is happened once already? Before the War, my 
father has had a big factory in Posen. The War comes, and 
my father has to go. To-morrow, it can be here the same. But 
my father, he is such a man that to him it is equal. He can 
start with one pfennig and work and work untO he gets all 

“And that is why,” Natalia went on, “I wish to leave school 
and begin to learn something useful, that I can win my bread. 
I cannot know how long my parents have money. My father 
will that I make my Abitur and go to the university. But now 
I will speak with him and ask if I cannot go to Paris and 
study art. If I can draw and paint I can perhaps make my 
life; and also I will learn cookery. Do you know that I can- 
not cook, not the simplest thingF 

“Neither can I.” 

“For a man, that is not so important, I find. But a girl must 
be prepared for all.” 

“If I want,” added Natalia earnestly, “I shall go away with 
the man I love I shall live with him; even if we cannot 


become married it will not matter. Then I must be able to do 
all for myself, you understand? It is not enough to say: I have 
made my Abitur, I have my degree at the university. He will 
answer: ‘Please, where is my chnner? ” 

There was a pause. 

“You are not shocked at what I say just now,*" asked 
Natalia suddenly. “That I would live with a man without that 
we were married?” 

“No, of course not.” 

“Do not misunderstand me, please. I do not admirate the 
women who is going always from one man to another — ^that 
is all so,” NataHa made a gesture of distaste, “so degenerated, 
I find.” 

“You don’t think that women should be allowed to change 
their minds?” 

“I do not know. I do not understand such questions. . . . 
But it is degenerated.” 

I saw her home. Natalia had a trick of leading you right up 
on to the doorstep, and then, with extraordinary rapidity, 
shaking hands, whisking into the house and slamming the 
door m your face. 

“You ring me up? Next week? Yes?” I can hear her voice 
now. And dien the door slammed and she was gone without 
waiting for an answer. 

Natalia avoided all contacts, direct and indirect. Just as 
she wouldn’t stand chatting with me on her own doorstep, 
she preferred always, I noticed, to have a table between us 
if we sat down. She hated me to help her into her coat: “I 
am not yet sixty years, my dear sir!” If we stood up to leave a 
cafe or a restaurant and she saw my eye moving towards 
the peg from which her coat hung, she would pounce in- 
stantly upon it and carry it oflE with her into a comer, like an 
animal guarding its food. 

One evening, we went into a cafe and ordered two cups of 
chocolate. When the chocolate came, we found that the 


waitress had forgotten to bring Natalia a spoon. Td already 
sipped my cup and had stirred it with my spoon after sipping 
it. It seemed quite natural to offer my spoon to Natalia, and 
I was surprised and a little impatient when she refused it 
with an expression of slight distaste. She declined even this 
indirect contact with my mouth. 

Natalia got tickets for a concert of Mozart concertos. The 
evening was not a success. The severe Corinthian hall was 
chilly, and my eyes were uncomfortably dazzled by the classic 
brilliance of the electric lights. The shiny wooden chairs were 
austerely hard. The audience plainly regarded the concert as 
a religious ceremony. Their taut, devotional enthusiasm op- 
pressed me like a headache; I couldn’t, for a moment, lose 
consciousness of all those blind, half-frowning, listening 
heads. And, despite Mozart, I couldn’t help feeling: What 
an extraordinary way this is of spending an evening! 

On the way home, I was tired and sulky, and this resulted 
in a little tiff with Natalia. She began it by talking about 
Hippi Bernstein. It was Natalia who had got me my job with 
the Bernsteins: she and Hippi went to the same school. A 
couple of days before, I had given Hippi her first English 

‘‘And how do you like heri^ Natalia asked. 

"Very much. Don’t you?” 

"Yes, I also. . . . But she s got two bad faults. I think you 
will not have notice them yet?” 

As I didn’t rise to this, she added solemnly; "You know, I 
wish you would tell me truthfully what are my faults?” 

In another mood, I should have found this amusing, and 
even rather touching. As it was, I only thought: “She’s fish- 
ing,” and snapped: 

"I don’t know what you mean by ‘faults.’ I don’t judge 
people on a half-term-report basis. You’d better ask one of 
your teachens ” 

This shut Natalia up for the moment But, presently, 
she started again. Had I r^d any of the books she’d lent 


I hadn’t, but said: Yes, Td read Jacobsens Frau Marie 

And what did I think of it? 

“It s very good,” I said, peevish because guilty. 

Natalia looked at me sharply: “Fm afraid you are vairy in- 
sincere. You do not give your real meaning.” 

I was suddenly, childishly cross: 

“Of course I don’t. Why should I? Arguments bore me. I 
don’t intend to say anything which you’re hkely to disagree 

“But if that is so,” she was really dismayed, “then it is no 
use for us to speak of anything seriously.” 

“Of course it isn’t.” 

“Then shall we not talk at all?” asked poor Natalia. 

“The best of all,” I said, “would be for us to make noises 
like farmyard animals. I like hearing the sound of your voice 
but I don’t care a bit what you’re saying. So it’d be far better 
if we just said Bow-wow and Baa and Meaow!* 

Natalia flushed. She was bewildered and deeply hurt 
Presently, after a long silence, she said; “Yes. I see.” 

As we approached her house, I tried to patch things up 
and turn the whole business into a joke, but she didn’t 
respond. I went home feeling very much ashamed of myself. 

Some days after this, however, Natalia rang up of her 
own accord and asked me to lunch. She opened the door 
herself — ^she had evidently been waiting to do so — and 
greeted me by exclaiming: “Bow-wowl Baa! Meaow!” 

For a moment, I really thought she must have gone mad. 
Then I remembered our quarrel. But Natalia, having made 
her joke, was quite ready to be friends again. 

We went into the sittmg-room, and she began putting 
aspirin tablets into the bowls of flowers — ^to revive them, 
she said. I asked what she’ d been doing during the last few 

“All this week,” said Natalia, ‘T am not going in the school. 


I have been unwell. Three days ago, I stand there by the 
piano, and suddenly I fall down — so. How do you say — 

‘Tou mean, you fainted?” 

Natalia nodded vigorously; ^Tfes, that's right. I am ohn- 

“But in that case you ought to be in bed now.” I felt sud- 
denly very masculine and protective: “How are you feeling?” 

Natalia laughed gaily, and, certainly, I had never seen her 
looking better: 

“Oh, it's not so important!” 

“There is one thing I must tell you,” she added. “It shall be 
a nice surprise for you, I think — ^to-day is coming my father, 
and my cousin Bernhard.” 

“How very nice.” 

“Yes! Is it not? My father makes us great joy when he 
comes, for now he is often on travel. He has much business 
everywhere, in Paris, in Vienna, in Prague. Always he must 
be going in the train. You shall like him, I think.” 

“Tm certain I shall.” 

And sure enough, when the glass doors parted, there was 
Herr Landauer, waiting to receive me. Beside him stood 
Bernhard Landauer, Natalia's cousin, a tall pale young man 
in a dark suit, only a few years older than myself. “I am very 
pleased to make your acquaintance,” Bernhard said, as we 
shook hands. He spoke English without the faintest trace of 
a foreign accent. 

Herr Landauer was a small lively man, with dark leathery 
wrinkled skin, like an old well-pohshed boot. He had shiny 
brown boot-button eyes and low-comedian's eyebrows — ^so 
thick and black that they looked as if th^ had been touched 
up with burnt cork. It was evident that he adored his family. 
He opened the door for Frau Landauer in a way which sug- 
gested that she was a very beautiful young girl. His benev- 
olent, delighted smile embraced the whole party— Natalia 
spariding with joy at her father's return, Frau Landauer 
faintly flushed, Bernhard smooth and pale and politely eiug- 


matic: even I myself was included. Indeed, Herr Landauer 
addressed almost the whole of his conversation to me, care- 
fully avoiding any reference to family affairs which might 
have reminded me that I was a stranger at his table. 

“Thirty-five years ago I was in England,"' he told me, 
speaking with a strong accent. “I came to your capital to 
write a thesis for my doctorate, on the condition of Jewish 
workers in the East End of London. I saw a great deal that 
your English oflBcials did not desire me to see. I was quite 
a young fellow then: younger, I suspect, than you are to-day. 
I had some exceedingly interesting conversations with dock- 
hands and prostituted women and the keepers of your so- 
called Public Houses. Very interesting. . . Herr Landauer 
smiled reminiscently; “And this insignificant little thesis of 
mine caused a great deal of discussion. It has been translated 
into no less than five languages." 

“Five languages!" repeated Natalia, in German, to me. 
“You see, my fattier is a writer, tool" 

“Ah, that was thirty-five years ago! Long before you were 
bom, my dear." Herr Landauer shook bis head deprecat- 
ingly, his boot-button eyes twinkling with benevolence: 
“Now I have not the time for such studies." He turned to me 
again: “I have just been reading a book in the French lan- 
guage about your great English poet. Lord Byron. A most 
interesting book. Now I should be very glad to have your 
opinion, as a writer, on this most important question — ^was 
Lord Byron guilty of the crime of incest? What do you think, 
Mr. Isherwood?" 

I felt myself beginning to blush. For some odd reason, it 
was the presence of Frau Landauer, placidly chewing her 
lunch, not of Natalia, which chiefly embarrassed me at this 
moment. Bernhard kept his eyes on his plate, subtly smiling. 
“Well," I began, “it's rather diflBcult. . . ." 

“This is a very interesting problem," interrupted Herr 
Landauer, looking benevolentty round upon us all and masti- 
cating wilh the greatest satisfaction: “Shall we allow that the 
man of genius is an exceptional person who may do excep- 


tional things? Or shall we say: No — ^you may write a beauti- 
ful poem or paint a beautiful picture, but in your daily life 
you must behave Kke an ordinary person, and you must obey 
these laws which we have made for ordinary persons? We 
will not allow you to be exfra-ordinary/' Herr Landauer 
fixed each of us in turn, triumphantly, his mouth full of food. 
Suddenly his eyes focussed beamingly upon me: “Your dram- 
atist Oscar Wilde . . . this is another case. I put this case 
to you, Mr. Isherwood. I should like very much to hear your 
opinion. Was your English Law justified in punishing Oscar 
Wilde, or was it not justified? Please tell me what you think?"" 

Herr Landauer regarded me delightedly, a forkful of meat 
poised half-way up to his mouth. In the background, I was 
aware of Bernhard, discreetly smiling. 

“Well . . I began, feeling my ears burning red. This 
time, however, Frau Landauer unexpectedly saved me, by 
making a remark to Natalia in German, about the vegetables. 
There was a little discussion, during which Herr Landauer 
seemed to forget all about his question. He went on eating 
contentedly. But now Natalia must needs chip in: 

“Please tell my father the name of your book. I could not 
remember it. Ifs such a funny name.” 

I tried to direct a private frown of disapproval at her 
which the others would not notice. “AH the Conspirators,** I 
said, coldly. 

“AZZ the Conspirators ... oh, yes, of course!” 

“Ah, you write criminal romances, Mr. Isherwood?” Herr 
Landauer beamed approvingly. 

“Tm afraid this book has nothing to do with criminals,” I 
said, politely. Herr Landauer looked puzzled and disap- 
pointed: “Not to do with criminals?” 

“You \vill explain to him, please,” Natalia ordered. 

I drew a long breath: “The tide was meant to be sjmbolic. 

. . . It s taken from Shakespeare"s Julius Caesar, . . ” 

Herr Landauer brightened at once: “Ah, Shakespeare! 
Splendid! This is most interesting. . . ” 

“In German,” I smiled slighdy at my own cunning: I was 


luring him down a side-track, “you have wonderful transla- 
tions of Shakespeare, I believe?"’ 

“Indeed, yes! These translations are among the finest works 
in our language. Thanks to them, your Shakespeare has be- 
come, as it were, almost a German poet. . 

“But you do not tell,” Natalia persisted, with what seemed 
really devilish malice, “what your book is about?” 

I set my teeth: “It’s about two young men. One of them 
is an artist and the other a student of medicine.” 

“Are these the only two persons in your book, then?” 
Natalia asked. 

“Of course not. . . . But I’m surprised at your bad mem- 
ory. I told you the whole story only a short time ago.” 

“Imbecile! It is not for myself I ask. Naturally, I remember 
all what you have told me. But my father has not yet heard. 
So you will please tell. . . . And what is then?” 

“The artist has a mother and a sister. They are all very 

“But why are they unhappy? My father and my motlier and 
I, we are not unhappy.” 

I wished the earth would swallow her: “Not all people 
are alike,” I said carefully, avoiding Herr Landauer’s eye. 

“Good,” said Natalia. “They are unhappy. . . . And what 
is then?” 

“The artist runs away from home and his sister gets mar- 
ried to a very unpleasant young man.” 

Natalia evidently saw lhat I wouldn’t stand much more 
of this. She delivered one final pin-prick: “And how many 
copies d'd you sell?” 


“Five! But that is very few, isn’t it?” 

“Very few indeed.” 

At the end of lunch, it seemed tacitly understood that 
Bernhard and his uncle and aunt were to discuss family af- 
fairs together. “Do you like,” Natalia asked me, “that we shall 
walk together a little?” 

Herr Landauer took a ceremonial farewell of me: “At all 


times, Mr. Isherwood, you are welcome under my roof.” We 
both bowed profoundly. 

‘‘Perhaps,” said Bernhard, giving me his card, “you would 
come one evening and enliven my solitude for a little?” I 
thanked him and said that I should be delighted. 

“And what do you think of my father?” Natalia asked, as 
soon as we were out of the house. 

“I think he’s the nicest father I’ve ever met.” 

“You do truthfully?” Natalia was delighted. 

“Yes, truthfully.” 

“And now coiifess to me, my father shocked you when he 
was speaking of Lord Byron — ^no? You were quite red as a 
lobster in your cheeks,” 

I laughed: “Your father makes me feel old-fashioned. His 
conversation’s so modem.” 

Natalia laughed triumphantly: “You see, I was right! You 
were shocked. Oh, I am so glad! You see, I say to my father: 
A vairy intelligent young man is coming here to see us — ^and 
so he wish to show you Aat he also can be modern and speak 
of all this subjects. You thought my father would be a stupid 
old man? Tell the tmth, please.” 

“No,” I protested. “I never thought that!” 

“Well, he is not stupid, you see. ... He is vaiiy^ clever. 
Only he does not have so much time for reading, because he 
must work always. Sometimes he must work eighteen and 
nineteen hours in the day; it is tairrible. . . . And he is the 
best father in the whole world!” 

“Your cousin Bernhard is your fathers partner, isn’t 

Natalia nodded: “It is he who manages the store, here in 
Berlin. He also is vairy clever.” 

“I suppose you see a good deal of him?” 

“No. . , . It is not often that he come to our house. . . • 
He is a strange man, you know? I think he like to be vairy 
much alone. I am surprise when he ask you to make him a 
visit. . . . You must be careful.” 

“Careful? Why on earth should I be careful?” 


“He is vairy sarcastical, you see. I think perhaps he laugh 
at you.” 

“Well, that wouldn’t be very terrible, would it? Plenty of 
people laugh at me. . . . You do, yourself, sometimes.” 

“Oh, I! That is different.” Natalia shook her head solemnly; 
she evidently spoke from unpleasant experience. “When I 
laugh, it is to make fim, you know? But when Bernhard laugh 
at you, it is not nice. . . ” 

• • • 

Bernhard had a flat in a quiet street not far from the Tier- 
garten. When I rang at the outer entrance, a gnome-like 
caretaker peeped up at me through a tiny basement window, 
asked whom I wished to visit, and finally, after regarding me 
for a few moments with profound mistrust, pressed a button 
releasing the lock of the outer door. This door was so heavy 
that I had to push it open with both hands; it closed behind 
me with a hollow boom, like the firing of a cannon. Then 
came a pair of doors opening into the courtyard, then the 
door of the Gartenhaus, then five flights of stairs, then 
the door of the fiat. Four doors to protect Bernhard from the 
outer world. 

This evening, he was wearing a beautifully embroidered 
kimono over his town clothes. He was not quite as I remem- 
bered him from our first meeting:' I hadn’t see him, then, 
as being in the least oriental — the kimono, I suppose, brought 
this out. His over-civilized, prim, finely drawn, beaky profile 
gave him something of the air of a bird in a piece of Chinese 
embroidery. He was soft, negative, I thought, yet curiously 
potent, with the static potency of a carved ivory figure in a 
shrine. I noticed again his beautiful English, and the depre- 
catory gestures of his hands, as he showed me a tweffth- 
century sandstone head of Buddha from Khmer which stood 
at the foot of his bed — ^Tkeeping watch over my slumbers.” 
On the low white bookcase were little Greek and Siamese and 
Indo-Chinese statuettes and stone heads, most of which 
Bernhard had brought home with him from his travels, 


Amongst volumes of Kunst-Geschichte, photograpluc repro- 
ductions and monographs on sculpture and antiquities, I saw 
Vachells The Hill and Lenin s What Is to Be Done? The fiat 
might well have been in the depths of the country: you 
couldn’t hear the faintest outside sound. A staid housekeeper 
in an apron served supper. I had soup, fish, a chop and 
savoury; Bernhard drank milk, ate only tomatoes and rusks. 

We talked of London, which Bernhard had never visited, 
and of Paris, where he had studied for a time in a sculptor’s 
atelier. In his youth, he had wanted to be a sculptor, "but,’' 
Bernhard sighed, smiled gently, “Providence has ordained 

I wanted to talk to him about the Landauer business, but 
didn’t — ^fearing it might not be tactful. Bernhard himself re- 
ferred to it, however, in passing: “You must pay us a visit, 
one day, if it would interest you — ^for I suppose that it is 
interesting, if only as a contemporary economic phenome- 
non.” He smiled, and his face was masked with exhaustion: 
the thought crossed my mind that he was perhaps suffering 
from a fatal disease. 

Alter supper, he seemed brighter, however; he began tell- 
ing me about his travels. A few years before, he had been 
right round the world — gently inquisitive, mildly satiric, pok- 
ing his delicate beak-like nose into everything; Jewish village 
communities in Palestine, Jewish settlements on the Black 
Sea, revolutionary committees in India, rebel armies in 
Mexico. Hesitating, delicately choosing his words, he de- 
scribed a conversation with a Chinese ferryman about de- 
mons, and a barely credible instance of the brutality of the 
police in New York. 

Four or five times during the evening, the telephone beU 
rang, and, on each occasion, it seemed that Bernhard was 
being asked for help and advice. “Come and see me to- 
morrow,” he said, in his tired, soothing voice. “Yes. . . . Ym 
sure it can all be arranged. . . . And now, please don’t worry 
any more. Go to bed and sleep. I prescribe two or three tab- 
lets of aspirin. . . «” He smiled softly, ironically. Evidently 


lie was about to lend each of his applicants some money. 

‘‘And please tell me/" he asked, just before I left, “if I am 
not being impertinent — ^what has made you come to live in 

“To learn German,” I said. After Natalia’s warning, I 
wasn’t going to trust Bernhard with the history of my life. 

“And you are happy here?” 

“Very happy.” 

“That is wonderful, I think. . . . Most wonderful . . 
Bernhard laughed his gentle ironical laugh: “A spirit pos- 
sessed of such vitality 3iat it can be happy, even in Berlin. 
You must teach me your secret. May I sit at your feet and 
learn wisdom?” 

His smile contracted, vanished. Once again, the impassiv- 
ity of mortal weariness fell like a shadow across his strangely 
youthful face. “I hope,” he said, “that you will ring me up 
whenever you have nothing better to do.” 

• • • 

Soon after this, I went to call on Bernhard at the business. 

Landauers" was an enormous steel and glass building, not 
far from the Potsdarner Platz. It took me nearly a quarter of 
an hour to find my way through departments of underwear, 
outfitting, electrical appliances, sport and cutlery to the pri- 
vate world behind the scenes — ^the wholesale, travellers" and 
buying rooms, and Bernhards own little suite of offices. A 
porter showed me into a small waiting-room, panelled in 
some highly polished streaky wood, with a rich blue carpet 
and one picture, an engraving of Berlin in the year 1803. After 
a few moments, Bernhard himself came in. This morning, he 
looked younger, sprucer, in a bow-tie and a light grey suit. 
*T hope that you give your approval to this room,"" he said. 
“I think that, as I keep so many people waiting here, they 
ought at least to have a more or less sympathetic atmosphere 
to allay their impatience.” 

“It"s very nice,” I said, and added, to make conversation — 


for I was feeling a little embarrassed: “What kind of wood 
is this?"* 

“Caucasian Nut/’ Bernhard pronounced the words with 
his characteristic primness, veiy precisely. He grinned sud- 
denly. He seemed, I thought, in much better spirits: “Come 
and see the shop.” 

In the hardware department, an overalled woman demon- 
strator was exhibiting the merits of a patent coffee-strainer. 
Bernhard stopped to ask her how the sales were going, and 
she offered us cups of coffee. While I sipped mine, he ex- 
plained that I was a well-known coffee-merchant from Lon- 
don, and that my opinion would therefore be worth having. 
The woman half believed this, at first, but we both laughed 
so much that she became suspicious. Then Bernhard dropped 
his coffee-cup and broke it. He was quite distressed and 
apologized profusely. “It doesn’t matter,” the demonstrator 
reassured him — as though he were a minor employee who 
might get sacked for his clumsiness: “I’ve got two more.” 

Presently we came to the toys. Bernhard told me that he 
and his uncle wouldn’t allow toy soldiers or guns to be sold 
at Landauers’. Lately, at a directors’ meeting, there had been 
a heated argument about toy tanks, and Bernhard had suc- 
ceeded in getting his own way. “But this is really the thin 
end of the wedge,” he added, sadly, picking up a toy tractor 
with caterpillar wheels. 

Then he showed me a room in which children could play 
while their mothers were shopping. A uniformed nurse was 
helping two little boys to build a castle of bricks. “You ob- 
serve,” said Bernhard, “that philanthropy is here combined 
with advertisement. Opposite this room, we display specially 
cheap and attractive hats. The mothers who bring Aeir chil- 
dren here fall immediately into temptation. . . • Im afraid 
you will think us sadly materialistic. . . 

I asked why there was no book department. 

“Because we dare not have one. My uncle knows that I 
should remain there all day.” 


All over the stores, there were brackets of coloured lamps, 
red, green, blue and yellow. I asked what they were for, and 
Bernhard explained that each of these lights was the signal 
for one of the heads of the firm: "I am the blue light. That 
is, perhaps, to some degree, symbolic.” Before I had time to 
ask what he meant, the blue lamp we were looking at began 
to flicker. Bernhard went to the nearest telephone and was 
told that somebody wished to speak to him in his oflSce. So 
we said good-bye. On the way out, I bought a pair of socks. 

During the early part of that winter, I saw a good deal of 
Bernhard. I cannot say that I got to know him much better 
through these evenings spent together. He remained curi- 
ously remote from me — ^his face impassive with exhaustion 
under the shaded lamplight, his gentle voice moving on 
through sequences of mildly humorous anecdotes. He would 
describe, for instance, a lunch with some friends who were 
very strict Jews. "‘Ah,” Bernhard had said, conversationally, 
“so we re having lunch out of doors to-day? How delightful! 
The weather s still so warm for the time of year, isn't it? And 
your garden s looking lovely.” Then, suddenly, it had oc- 
curred to him that his hosts were regarding him rather sourly, 
and he remembered, with horror, mat th^ was the Feast of 

I laughed. I was amused. Bernhard told stories very well. 
But, all the time, I was aware of feeling a certain impatience. 
Why does he treat me like a child, I thought. He treats us 
all as children — his uncle and aunt, Natalia, myself. He tells 
us stories. He is sympathetic, charming. But his gestures, 
offering me a glass of wine or a cigarette, are clothed in 
arrogance, in the arrogant humility of the East. He is not 
going to tell me what he is really thinking or feeling, and he 
despises me because I do not know. He will never tell me 
anything about himself, or about the things which are most 
important to him. And because I am not as he is, because I 
am the opposite of this, and would gladly share my thoughts 


and sensations with forty million people if they cared to 
read them, I half admire Bernhard but also half dislike him. 

We seldom talked about the political condition of Ger- 
many, but, one evening, Bernhard told me a story of the days 
of the civil war. He had been visited by a student friend who 
was taking part in the fighting. The student was veiy nerv^ous 
and refused to sit down. Presently he confessed to Bernhard 
that he had been ordered to take a message through to one 
of the newspaper office-buildings which the police were be- 
sieging; to reach this office, it would be necessary to climb 
and crawl over roofs which were exposed to machine-gun 
fire. Naturally, he wasn’t anxious to start. The student was 
wearing a remarkably thick overcoat, which Bernhard 
pressed him to take off, for the room was well heated and liis 
face was literally streaming with sweat. At length, after much 
hesitation, the student did so, revealing, to Bernhard’s in- 
tense alarm, that the lining of the coat was fitted with inside 
pockets stuffed full of hand-grenades. “And the worst of it 
was,” said Bernhard, “that he’d made up his mind not to 
take any more risks, but to leave the overcoat with me. He 
wanted to put it into the bath and turn on the cold water tap. 
At last I persuaded him that it would be much better to take 
it out after dark and to drop it into the canal — and this he 
ultimately succeeded in doing. ... He is now one of the 
most distinguished professors in a certain provincial univer- 
sity. I am sure that he has long since forgotten tiiis somewhat 
embarrassing escapade. . , 

“Were you ever a communist, Bernhard?” I asked. 

At once — saw it in his face — ^he was on the defensive. 
After a moment, he said slowly: 

“No, Christopher. I’m afraid I was always constitutionally 
incapable of bringing myself to the required pitch of en- 

' I felt suddenly impatient with him; angry, even: e^'er 

to believe in anjihing?” 

Bernhard smiled laintly at my violence. It may have 
amused him to have rousea me like this. 


• • • 

“Perhaps. . . Then he added, as if to himself: “No 
that is not quite true. . . r 

“What do you believe in, then?” I challenged. 

Bernhard was silent for some moments, considering this 
— ^his beaky delicate profile impassive, his eyes half -closed. 
At last he said: “Possibly I believe in discipline.” 

“In discipline?” 

*You don t understand that, Christopher? Let me try to 
explain. ... I believe in discipline for myself, not neces- 
sarily for others. For others, I cannot judge. I know only 
that I myself must have certain standards which I obey and 
without which I am quite lost. . . . Does that sound very 

“No,” I said — ^thinking: He is like Natalia. 

“You must not condemn me too harshly, Christopher.” The 
mocking smile was spreading over Bernhard's face. “Remem- 
ber that I am a cross-breed. Perhaps, after all, there is one 
drop of pure Prussian blood in my polluted veins. Perhaps 
this little finger,” he held it up to the light, “is the finger of a 
Prussian drill-sergeant. . . . You, Christopher, witii your 
centuries of Ango-Saxon freedom behind you, with your 
Magna Charta engraved upon your heart, cannot understand 
that we poor barbarians need the stifEness of a uniform to 
keep us standing upright.” 

“Why do you always make fun of me, Bernhard?” 

“Make fun of you, my dear Christopherl I shouldn't dare!” 

Yet, perhaps, on this occasion, he told me a little more than 
he had intended. 

I had long meditated the experiment of introducing Nata- 
lia to Sally Bowles. I think I knew beforehand what the result 
of their meeting would be. At any rate, I had the sense not 
to invite Fritz Wendel. 

We were to meet at a smart cafe in the Kurfiirstendamm. 
Natalia was the first to arrive. She was a quarter of an hour 
late — probably because she'd wanted to have the advantage 


of coming last. But she had reckoned without Sally: she 
hadn t the nerve to be late in the grand manner. Poor Natalia! 
She had tried to make herself look more grown up — ^with the 
result that she appeared merely rather dowdy. The long 
townified dress she’d put on didn’t suit her at all. On the side 
of her head, she had planted a little hat — an unconscious 
parody of Sally’s page-boy cap. But Natalia’s hair was much 
too fuz2y for it: it rode the waves like a half -swamped boat 
on a rough sea. 

"How do I look?” she immediately asked, sitting down op- 
posite to me, rather flurried. 

^^ou look very nice.” 

"Tell me, please, truthfully, what will she think of me?” 

"She’ll like you very much.” 

"How can you say that?” Natalia was indignant “You do 
not know!” 

"First you want my opinion, and then you say I don't 

"Imbecile! I do not ask for compliments!” 

"I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what you do ask for.” 

"Oh no?” cried Natalia scornfully. ‘Tou do not understand? 
Then I am sorry. I can’t help you!” 

At this moment, Sally arrived. 

"Hilloo, darling,” she exclaimed, in her most cooing ac- 
cents, “I’m terribly sorry I’m late — can you forgive me?” She 
sat down daintily, enveloping us in wafts of perfume, and 
began, with languid miniature gestures, to take off her 
gloves: "I’ve been making love to a dirty old Jew producer. 
I’m hoping he’ll give me a contract — ^but no go, so tar. . . •” 

I kicked Sally hastily, under the table, and she stopped 
short, with an expression of absurd dismay— but now, of 
course, it was too late. Natalia froze before our eyes. All Fd 
said and hinted beforehand, in h>’pothetic pre-excuse of 
Sally’s conduct, was instantly made void. After a moment’s 
glacial pause, Natalia asked me if Fd seen Sous tes Toits de 
Tatis, She spoke German. She wasn’t going to give Sally a 
chance of laughing at her English. 


Sally immediately chipped in, however, quite unabashed. 
Shed seen the film, and thought it was marvellous, and 
wasn t Prejean marvellous, and did we remember the scene 
where a train goes past in the background while they’re 
starting to fight? Sally’s German was so much more than 
usually awful that I wondered whether she wasn’t deliber- 
ately exaggerating it in order, somehow, to make fun of 

During the rest of the interview I suffered mental pins 
and needles. Natalia hardly spoke at all. Sally prattled on in 
her murderous German, maldng what she imagined to be 
light general conversation, chiefly about the English film 
industry. But as every anecdote involved explaining that 
somebody was someone else’s mistress, that this one drank 
and that one took drugs, this didn’t make the atmosphere 
any more agreeable. I found myself getting increasingly an- 
noyed with both of them — ^witb SaUy for her endless silly 
pornographic talk; with Natalia for being such a prude. At 
length, after what seemed an eternity but was, in fact, barely 
twenty minutes, Natalia said that she must be going. 

“My God, so must I!” cried Sally, in English. “Chris, dar- 
ling, you’ll take me as far as the Eden, won’t you?” 

In my cowardly way, I glanced at Natalia, trying to convey 
my helplessness. This, I Imew only too well, was going to be 
regarded as a test of my loyalty — ^and, already, I had failed it. 
Natalia’s expression showed no mercy. Her face was set. 
She was very angry, indeed. 

‘When shall I see youF’ I ventured to ask. 

**1 don’t know,” said Natalia — and she marched off down 
the Kurfiirstendamm as if she never wished to set eyes on 
either of us again. 

Although we had only a few hundred yards to go, Sally in- 
sisted that we must take a taxi. It would never do, she ex- 
plained, to arrive at the Eden on foot. 

“That girl didn’t like me much, did she?” she remarked, 
as we were driving off. 

“No, Sally. Not mucii” 


‘Tm sure I don’t know why. ... I went out of my way 
to be nice to her.” 

'If that’s what you call being nice ... 1” I laughed, in 
spite of my vexation. 

"Well, what ought I to have done?” 

"It’s more a question of what you ought not to have done. 
. , . Haven t you cny small-talk except adultery?” 

"People have got to take me as I am,” retorted Sally, 

"Finger-nails and all?” I’d noticed Natalia’s eyes returning 
to them again and again, in fascinated horror. 

Sally laughed: "To-day, I specially didn’t paint my toe- 

"Oh, rot, Sally! Do you really?” 

"Yes, of course I do.” 

"But what on earth’s the point? I mean, nobody I 

corrected myself, "very few people can see them. . . 

Sally gave me her most fatuous grin: "I know, darling. . . . 
But it makes me feel so marvellously sensual, . . 

From this meeting, I date the decline of my relations with 
NataHa. Not that there was ever any open quarrel between 
us, or definite break. Indeed, we met again only a few days 
later; but at once I was aware of a change in the temperature 
of our friendship. We talked, as usual, of art, music, books — 
carefully avoiding the personal note. We had been walking 
about the Tiergarten for the best part of an hour, when 
Natalia abruptly asked: 

"You like Miss Bowles vairy much?” Her eyes, fixed on 
the leaf-strewn path, were smiling maliciously. 

"Of course I do. . . . We’re going to be married, soon ” 


We marched on for several minutes in silence. 

"You know,” said Natalia suddenly, with the air of one 
who makes a surprising discovery: *1 do not like your Miss 


T know you don’t.” 

My tone vexed her — ^as I intended that it should: "What 
I think, it is not of importance?” 

"Not in the least.” I grinned teasingly. 

"Only your Miss Bowles, she is of importance?” 

"She is of great importance.” 

Natalia reddened and bit her lip. She was getting angry: 
“Some day, you will see that I am right.” 

"Ive no doubt I shall.” 

We walked all the way back to Natalia’s home without 
exchanging a single word. On the doorstep, however, she 
asked, as usual: “Perhaps you will ring me up, one day . . 
then paused, delivered her parting shot: “if your Miss Bowles 

I laughed: “Whether she permits or not, I shall ring you 
up very soon.” Almost before I had finished speaking, Natalia 
had shut the door in my face. 

Nevertheless, I didn’t keep my word. It was a month before 
I finally dialled Nataha’s number. I had half intended to do 
so, many times, but, always, my disinclination had been 
stronger than my desire to see her again. And when, at 
length, we did meet, the temperature had dropped several 
degrees lower still; we seemed mere acquaintances. Natalia 
was convinced, I suppose, that Sally had become my mistress, 
and I didn’t see why I should correct her mistake — doing so 
would only have involved a long heart-to-heart talk for 
which I simply wasn’t in the mood. And, at the end of all 
the explanations, NataHa would probably have found herself 
quite as much shocked as she was at present, and a good deal 
more jealous. I didn’t flatter myself that Natalia had ever 
wanted me as a lover, but she had certainly begun to behave 
towards me as a kind of bossy elder sister, and it was just 
this role — absurdly enough — ^which Sally had stolen from her. 
No, it was a pity, but on the whole, I decided, things were 
better as they were. So I played up to Natalia’s indirect 
questions and insinuations, and even let drop a few hints of 
domestic bliss: “When Sally and I were having breakfast 


together, this morning . . or “How do you like this tie? 
Sally chose it. . . r Poor Natalia received them in glum 
silence; and, as so often before, I felt guilty and unkind. 
There were two more meetings, equally unsuccessful. Then, 
towards the end of February, I rang up her home, and was 
told that she'd gone abroad. 

Bernhard, too, I hadn’t seen for some time. Indeed, I was 
quite surprised to hear his voice on the telephone one morn- 
ing. He wanted to know if I would go with him that evening 
“into the country” and spend the night. This sounded very 
mysterious, and Bernhard only laughed when I tried to get 
out of him where we were going and why. 

He called for me about eight o’clock, in a big closed car 
with a chauffeur. The car, Bernhard explained, belonged to 
the business. Both he and his uncle used it. It was typical, I 
thought, of the patriarchal simplicity in which the Landauers 
lived that Natalia’s parents had no private car of their own, 
and that Bernhard even seemed inclined to apologize to me 
for the existence of this one. It was a complicated simplicity, 
the negation of a negation. Its roots were entangled deep in 
the awful guilt of possession. Oh dear, I sighed to myself, 
shall I ever get to the bottom of these people, shall I ever 
understand them? The mere act of thinking about the 
Landauers’ psychic make-up overcame me, as always, with 
a sense of absolute, defeated exhaustion. 

“You are tired?” Bernhard asked, solicitous, at my elbow. 

“Oh no. ...” I roused myself. “Not a bit.” 

“You will not mind if we call first at the house of a friend 
of mine? There is somebody else coming with us, you s^. 
. . . I hope you don’t object?” 

“No, of course not,” I said politely. 

“He is very quiet. An old friend of the family.” Bernhard, 
for some reason, seemed amused. He chuckled faintly to him- 

The car stopped outside a villa in the Fasanenstrasse. 


Bemhard rang the bell and was let in; a few moments later, 
he reappeared, carrying in his arms a Skye terrier. I laughed. 

“You were exceedingly polite,” said Bernhard, smiling. “All 
the same, I think I detected a certain uneasiness on your 
part. . . . Am I right?*’ 

“Perhaps. . . .” 

“I wonder whom you were expecting? Some terribly boring 
old gentleman, perhaps?” Bernhard patted the terrier. “But 
I fear, Christopher, that you are far too well bred ever to 
confess that to me now.” 

The car slowed down and stopped before the toll-gate of 
the Avus motor-road. 

“Where are we going?” I asked. “I wish you’d tell me!” 

Bernhard smiled his soft expansive Oriental smile; “I’m 
very mysterious, am I not?” 


“Surely it must be a wonderful experience for you to be 
driving away into the night, not knowing whither you are 
bound? If I teU you that we are going to Paris, or to Madrid, 
or to Moscow, then there will no longer be any mystery and 
you will have lost half your pleasure. . . . Do you know, 
Christopher, I quite envy you because you do not know 
where we are going?” 

“That’s one way of looking at it, certainly. . . . But, at any 
rate, I know already we aren’t going to Moscow. We’re driv- 
ing in the opposite direction.” 

Bernhard laughed; “You are so very English sometimes, 
Chistopher. Do you realize that, I wonder?” 

“You bring out the English side of me, I think,” I answered, 
and immediately felt a little uncomfortable, as though this 
remark were somehow insulting. Bernhard seemed aware 
of my thought 

“Am I to imderstand that as a compliment, or as a re- 


“As a compliment, of course.” 

The car whirled along the black Avus, into the immense 
darkness of the winter countryside. Giant reflector signs 


glittered for a moment in the headlight beams, expired like 
burnt-out matches. Already Berlin was a reddish glow in 
the sky behind us, dwindling rapidly beyond a converging 
forest of pines. The searchlight on the Funkturm swung its 
little ray through the night. The straight black road roared 
headlong to meet us, as if to its destruction. In the upholstered 
darkness of the car, Bernhard was patting the restless dog 
upon his knees. 

‘Very well, I will tell you. . . . We are going to a place 
on the shores of the Wannsee which used to belong to my 
father. What you call in England a country cottage.” 

“A cottage? Very nice. . . .” 

My tone amused Bernhard. I could hear from his voice 
that he was smiling: 

“I hope you won’t find it too uncomfortable?” 

‘Tm sure I shall love it.” 

“It may seem a little primitive, at first. . . Bernhard 
laughed quietly to himself: “Nevertheless, it is amusing. . . ” 

“It must be. . . 

I suppose I had been vaguely expecting an hotel, lights, 
music, very good food. I reflected bitterly that only a rich, 
decadently over-civihzed town-dweller would describe camp- 
ing out for the night in a poky, damp countrj' cottage in the 
middle of the winter as “amusing.” And how typical that he 
should drive me to that cottage in a luxurious car! Where 
would the chauffeur sleep? Probably in the best hotel in Pots- 
dam. ... As we passed the lamps of the toll-house at the 
far end of the Avus, I saw that Bernhard was still smiling to 

The car swung to the right, downhill, along a road through 
silhouetted trees. There was a feeling of nearness to the big 
lake lying invisible behind the woodland on our left. I had 
hardly realized that the road had ended in a gateway and a 
private drive: we pulled up at the door of a large vilh. 

“Where’s this?” I asked Bernhard, supposing confusedly 
that he must have something else to call for— another terrier, 
perhaps* Bernhard laughed gaily: 


**We have arrived at our destination, my dear Christopher! 
Out you get!’* 

A manservant in a striped jacket opened the door. The dog 
jumped out, and Bernhard and I followed. Resting his hand 
upon my shoulder, he steered me across the hall and up the 
stairs. I was aware of a rich carpet and framed engravings. 
He opened the door of a luxurious pink and white bedroom, 
with a luscious quilted silk eiderdown on the bed. Beyond 
was a bathroom, gleaming with polished silver, and hung 
with fleecy white towels. 

Bernhard grinned: 

"Poor Christopher! I fear you are disappointed in our 
cottage? It is too large for you, too ostentatious? You were 
looking forward to the pleasure of sleeping on the floor — 
amidst the blackbeetles?” 

The atmosphere of this joke surrounded us through din- 
ner. As the manservant brought in each new course on its 
silver dish, Bernhard would catch my eye and smile a 
deprecatory smile. The dining-room was tame baroque, 
elegant and rather colourless. I asked him when the villa had 
been built. 

"My father built this house in 1904. He wanted to make 
it as much as possible like an English home — for my mother’s 
sake. . . .” 

After dinner, we walked down the windy garden, in the 
darkness. A strong wind was blowing up through the trees, 
from over the water. I followed Bernhard, stumbling against 
the body of the terrier which kept running between my legs, 
down flights of stone steps to a landing-stage. The dark lake 
was full of waves, and beyond, in the direction of Potsdam, 
a sprinkle of bobbing hghts were comet-tailed in the black 
water. On the parapet, a dismantled gas-bracket rattled in the 
wind, and, below us, the waves splashed uncannily soft and 
wet, against unseen stone. 

"When I was a boy, I used to come down these steps in 
the winter evenings and stand for hours here. , * Bern- 


hard had begun to speak. His voice was pitched so low that 
I could hardly hear it; his face was turned away from me, 
in the darkness, looking out over the lake. When a stronger 
pu£E of wind blew, his words came more distinctly — as though 
the wind itself were talking: “That was during the War-time. 
My elder brother had been killed, right at the beginning of 
the War , . Later, certain business rivals of my father be- 

gan to make propaganda against him, because his wife was 
an English woman, so that nobody would come to visit us, 
and it was rumoured that we were spies. At last, even the 
local tradespeople did not wish to call at the house. . . . 
It was all rather ridiculous, and at the same time rather ter- 
rible, that human beings could be possessed by so much 
malice. . . 

I shivered a little, peering out over the water. It was cold. 
Bernhard s soft, careful voice continued in my ear: 

“1 used to stand here on those winter evenings and pre- 
tend to myself that I was the last human being left alive 
in the world. ... I was a queer sort of boy, I suppose. . . . 
I never got on well with other boys, although I wished very 
much to be popular and to have friends. Perhaps that was 
my mistake — I was too eager to be friendly. The boys saw 
this and it made them cruel to me. Objectively, I can under- 
stand that . . . possibly I might even have been capable of 
cruelty myself, had circumstances been otherwise. It is dif- 
ficult to say. . . . But, being what I was, school was a kind 
of Chinese torture. ... So you can understand that I liked 
to come down here at night to tlie lake, and be alone. And 
then there was the War. ... At this time, I believed that the 
War would go on foi ten, or fifteen, or even twenty years. I 
knew that i myself should soon be called up. Curiously 
enough, I don't remember that I felt at all afraid. I accepted 
it It seemed quite natural that we should all have to me. I 
suppose that this was the general wartime mentality. But I 
thMk that, in my case, there was also something character- 
istically Semitic in my attitude. ... It is very difficult to 


speak quite impartially of these things. Sometimes one is 
unwilling to make certain admissions to oneself, because 
they are displeasing to one’s self-esteem, . . 

We turned slowly and began to climb the slope of the 
garden from the lake. Now and then, I heard the panting of 
die terrier, out hunting in the dark. Bernhard s voice went on, 
hesitating, choosing its words: 

“After my brother had been killed, my mother scarcely 
ever left this house and its grounds. I think she tried to for- 
get that such a land as Germany existed. She began to study 
Hebrew and to concentrate her whole mind upon ancient 
Jewish history and literature. I suppose that this is really 
symptomatic of a modem phase of Jewish development — ^this 
turning away from European culture and European tradi- 
tions. I am aware of it, sometimes, in myself. ... I remem- 
ber my mother going about the house like a person walking 
in sleep. She gmdged every moment which she did not spend 
at her studies, and this was rather terrible because, all the 
while, she was dying of cancer. ... As soon as she knew 
what was the matter with her, she refused to see a doctor. 
She feared an operation. ... At last, when the pain be- 
came very bad, she killed herself. . . 

We had reached the house. Bernhard opened a glass door, 
and we passed through a little conservatory into a big 
drawing-room full of jumping shadows from the fire burning 
in an open English fireplace. Bernhard switched on a num- 
ber of lamps, making the room quite dazzlingly bright. 

*"Need we have so much illumination?” I asked. ‘1 think 
the firelight is much nicer.” 

“Do you?” Bernhard smiled subtly. “So do I, . . . But I 
thought, somehow, that you would prefer the lamps.” 

“\^y on earth should I?” I mistrusted his tone at once. 

“I don’t know. It’s merely part of my conception of your 
character. How very foolish I am!” 

Bernhard’s voice was mocking. I made no reply. He got up 
and turned out all but one small lamp on a table at my side. 
There was a long silence. 


“Would you care to listen to the wireless?^ 

This time his tone made me smile: “You don*t have to 
entertain me, you know! Im perfectly happy just sitting 
here by the fire.’' 

“If you are happy, then I am glad. ... It was foolish of 
me — I had formed the opposite impression.” 

“What do you mean?” 

“I was afraid, perhaps, that you were feeling bored.” 

“Of course not! What nonsense!” 

"TTou are very polite, Christopher. You are always very 
polite. But I can read quite clearly w^hat you are think- 
ing. ...” I had never heard Bernhards voice sound like 
this, before; it was really hostile: ^Tou are wondering why I 
brought you to this house. Above all, you are wondering why 
I told you what I told you just now,” 

“I’m glad you told me. . . 

“No, Christopher. That is not true. You are a little shocked. 
One does not speak of such things, you think. It disgusts your 
English public-school training, a little — ^this Jewish emo- 
tionalism. You like to flatter yourself that you are a man of 
the world and that no form of weakness disgusts you, but 
your training is too strong for you. People ought not to talk 
to each other like this, you feel. It is not good form.’' 

“Bernhard, you’re being fantastic!” 

“Am I? Perhaps. . . . But I do not think so. Never mind. 
. . . Since you wish to know, I will try to explain to you why 
I brought you here, ... I wished to make an experiment” 

“An experiment? Upon me, you mean?” 

“No, Aol experiment upon myself. That is to say. . » . 
For ten years, I have never spoken intimately, as I have 
spoken to you to-night, to any human soul. ... I wonder 
if you can put yourself in my place, imagine what that 
means? And this evening. . . . Perhaps, after all, it is im- 
possible to explain. ... Let me put it in another way. I 
bring you down here, to this house, which has no associatioas 
for you. You have no reason to feel oppressed by the pash 
Then I tell you my story. ... It is possible that, in this way, 


one can lay ghosts. ... I express myself very badly. Does it 
sound very absurd as I say itf* 

“No. Not in the least. . . . But why did you choose me 
for your experiment?” 

“Your voice was very hard as you said that, Christopher, 
You are thinking that you despise me.” 

“No, Bernhard. I’m thinking that you must despise me, 
... I often wonder why you have anything to do with me 
at all. I feel sometimes that you actually dislike me, and that 
you say and do things to show it — and yet, in a way, I suppose 
you don’t, or you wouldn’t keep asking me to come and see 
you. ... All the same. I’m getting rattier tired of what you 
call your experiments. To-night wasn’t the first of them, by 
any means. The experiments fail, and then you’re angry with 
me. I must say, I think that’s very unjust. . . . But what I 
can’t stand is that you show your resentment by adopting 
this mock-humble attitude. . . . Actually, you’re the least 
humble person I’ve ever met.” 

Bernhard was silent. He had lit a cigarette, and now ex- 
pelled the smoke slowly through his nostrils. At last he said: 

“I wonder if you are right ... I think not altogether. 
But partly. . . . Yes, there is some quality in you which at- 
tracts me and which I very much envy, and yet this very 

a uality of yours also arouses my antagonism. . . . Perhaps 
lat is merely because I also am partly English, and you 
represent to me an aspect of my own character. . . . No, 
that is not true, either. ... It is not so simple as I would 
wish. . . . I’m afraid,” Bernhard passed his hand, with a 
wearily humorous gesture, over his forehead and eyes, “that 
I am a quite unnecessarily complicated piece of mechanism.” 
There was a moment’s silence. Then he added: 

“But this is all stupid egotistical talk. You must forgive 
me. I have no right to speak to you in this way.” 

He rose to his feet, went softly across the room, and 
switched on the wireless. In rising,^ he had rested his hand 
for an instant on my shoulder. Followed by the first strains 
of the music, he came back to his chair before the fire, smiling. 


His smile was soft, and yet curiously hostile. It had the 
hostility of something ancient. I thought of one of the Ori- 
ental statuettes in his fiat. 

‘"This evening,” he smiled softly, “they are relaying the 
last act of Die MeistersingerJ" 

“Very interesting,” I said. 

Half an hour later, Bernhard took me up to my bedroom 
door, his hand upon my shoulder, still smiling. Next morning, 
at breakfast, he looked tired, but was gay and amusing. He 
did not in any way refer to our conversation of the evening 

We drove back to Berlin, and he dropped me on the comer 
of the NoUendorfplatz. 

“Ring me up soon,” I said. 

“Of course. Early next week.” 

“And thank you very much.” 

“Thank you for coming, my dear Christopher.” 

I didn t see him again for nearly six months. 

One Sunday, early in August, a referendum was held to 
decide the fate of the Briining government. 1 was back at 
Frl. Schroeders, lying in bed through the beautiful hot 
weather, cursing my toe: I had cut it on a piece of tin, bathing 
for the last time at Riigen, and now it had suddenly festered 
and was full of poison, I was quite delighted when Bernhard 
unexpectedly rang me up. 

“You remember a certain little country cottage on the 
shores of the Wannsee? You do? I was wondering if you 
would care to spend a few hours there, this afternoon, . . . 
Yes, your landlady has told me already about your misfor- 
tune. I am so sorry. ... I can send the car for you. I think 
it will be good to escape for a little from this city? You can 
do whatever you like there — ^just lie quiet and rest. Nobody 
will interfere with your liberty.” 


Soon after lunch, the car duly arrived to pick me up. It was 
a glorious afternoon, and, during the drive, I blessed Bern- 
hard for his kindness. But, when we arrived at the villa, I 
got a nasty shock: the lawn was crowded with people. 

I was really annoyed. It was a dirty trick, I thought. Here 
was I, in my oldest clothes, with a bandaged foot and a stick, 
lured into the middle of a slap-up garden-party! And here 
was Bernhard in flannel trousers and a boyish jumper. It 
was astonishing how young he looked. Bounding to meet 
me, he vaulted over the low railing: 

‘'Christopher! Here you are at last! Make yourseM com- 

In spite of my protests, he forcibly removed my coat and 
hat. As ill-luck would have it, I was wearing braces. Most 
of the other guests were in smart Riviera flannels. Smiling 
sourly, adopting instinctively the armour of sulky eccentricity 
which protects me on such occasions, I advanced hobbling 
into their midst. Several couples were dancing to a portable 
gramophone; two young men were pillow-fighting with 
cushions, cheered on by tfieir respective women; most of the 
party were lying chatting on rugs on the grass. It was all so 
very informal, and the footmen and the chauffeurs stood 
discreetly aside, watching their antics, like the nursemaids of 
titled children. 

What were they doing here? Why had Bernhard asked 
them? Was this another and more elaborate attempt to exor- 
cize his ghosts? No, I decided; it was more probably only a 
duty-party, given once a year, to all the relatives, friends and 
dependents of the family. And mine was just another name to 
be ticked off, far down the list. Well, it was silly to be un- 
gracious. I was here. I would enjoy myself. 

Then, to my great surprise, I saw Natalia. She was dressed 
in some light yellow material, with small puffed sleeves, 
and carried a big straw hat in her hand. She looked so pretty 
that I should hardly have recognized her. She advanced 
gaily to welcome me: 

“Ah, Christopher! You know, I am so pleased!” 


‘*Where have you been, all this time?" 

‘In Paris. . . . You did not know? Truthfully? I await al- 
ways a letter from you — and there is nothing!" 

“But, Natalia, you never sent me your address." 

“Oh, I didr 

“Well, in that case, I never got the letter, . . . Ive been 
away, too, you know." 

“So? You have been away? Then Tm sorry, ... I cant 
help you!" 

We both laughed. Natalia's laugh had changed, like every- 
thing else about her. It was no longer the laugh of the severe 
schoolgirl who had ordered me to read Jacobsen and Goethe. 
And there was a dreamy, delighted smile upon her face — as 
though, I thought, she were listening, all the time, to lively, 
pleasant music. Despite her obvious pleasure at seeing me 
again, she seemed hardly to be attending to our conversation. 

“And what are you doing in Paris? Are you studying art, 
as you wanted to?" 

“But of course!" 

“Do you like it?" 

“Wonderful!" Natalia nodded vigorously. Her eyes were 
sparkling. But the word seemed intended to describe some- 
thing else. 

“Is your mother with you?" 

“Yes. Yes. . . 

“Have you got a flat together?" 

“Yes. . . " Again she nodded. ‘‘A flat ... Oh, its won- 

“And you go back there, soon?" 

“Why, yes. . . . Of course! To-morrow!" She seemed quite 
surprised that I should ask the question — surprised that the 
whole world didn't know. . . . How well I knew that feel- 
ing! I was certain, now: Natalia was in love. 

We talked for several minutes more — ^Natalia always 
smiling, always dreamily listening, but not to me. Then, ^ 
at once, she was in a hurry. She was late, she said. She'd 
got to pack. She must go at once. She squeezed my hand, and 


I watched her run gaily across the lawn to a waiting car. Sh< 
had forgotten, even, to ask me to write, or to give me he; 
address. As I waved good-bye to her, my poisoned toe gav< 
a sharp twinge of envy. 

Later, the younger members of the party bathed, splashing 
about in the dirty lake-water at the foot of the stone stairs 
Bernhard bathed, too. He had a white, strangely innocen 
body, like a baby’s, with a baby’s round, slightly protruding 
stomach. He laughed and splashed and shouted louder thai 
anybody. When he caught my eye, he made more noise thai 
ever — was it, I imagined, with a certain defiance? Was h< 
thinking, as I was, of what he had told me, standing in thi; 
very place, six months ago? “Come in, too, Christopher!” h< 
shouted. “Itll do your foot good!” When, at last, they hac 
all come out of the water and were diying themselves, hi 
and a few other young men chased each other, laughing 
among the garden trees. 

Yet, in spite of all Bernhard’s frisking, the party didn’ 
really "‘go.” It split up into groups and cliques; and, evei 
when the fun was at its height, at least a quarter of the guest 
were talking politics in low, serious voices. Indeed, some o 
them had so obviously come to Bernhard’s house merely t( 
meet each other and to discuss their own private affairs tha 
they scarcely troubled to pretend to take part in the so 
ciabilities. They might as well have been sitting in thei 
own offices, or at home. 

When it got dark, a girl began to sing. She sang in Russian 
and, as always, it sounded sad. The footmen brought ou 
glasses and a huge bowl of claret-cup. It was getting chill; 
on the lawn. There were millions of stars. Out on the grea 
calm brimming lake, the last ghost-like sails were tackin| 
hither and thither with the faint uncertain night-breeze. Th 
gramophone played, I lay back on the cushions, listening to i 
Jewish surgeon who argued that France cannot understan< 
Germany because the French have experienced nothini 
comparable to the neurotic post-War life of the Germai 
people. A girl laughed suddenly, shrilly, from the middle of i 
l^oup of young men. Over there, in me city, the votes wer 


being counted. I thought, of Natalia: She has escaped — none 
too soon, perhaps. However often the decision may be de- 
layed, all these people are ultimately doomed. This evening 
is the dress-rehearsal of a disaster. It is like the last night of 
an epoch. 

At half -past ten, the party began to break up. We all stood 
about in the hall or around the front door while someone 
telephoned through to Berlin to get the news. A few mo- 
ments’ hushed waiting, and the dark listening face at the 
telephone relaxed into a smile. The Government was safe, he 
told us. Several of the guests cheered, semi-ironical but re- 
lieved. I turned to find Bernhard at my elbow: ‘‘Once again. 
Capitalism is saved/’ He was subtly smiling. 

He had arranged that I should be taken home in the dicky 
of a Berlin-bound car. As we came down the Tauentzien- 
strasse, they were selling papers with the news of the shoot- 
ing on the Biilowplatz. I thought of our party lying out there 
on the lawn by die lake, drinking our claret-cup while the 
gramophone played; and of that police-oflScer, revolver in 
hand, stumbling mortally wounded up the cinema steps to 
fall dead at the feet or a cardboard figure advertising a 
comic film. 

Another pause — eight months, this time. And here I was, 
ringing the bell of Bernhard’s flat. Yes, he was in. 

“This is a great honour, Christopher. And, unfortunately, 
a very rare one.” 

“Yes, Tm sorry. I’ve so often meant to come and see you. 
... I don’t know why I haven’t . . 

“You’ve been in Berlin all this time? You know, I rang up 
twice at Frl. Schroeder’s, and a strange voice answered and 
said that you’d gone away, to England.” 

“I told Frl Schroeder that. I didn’t want her to know that 
I was still here.” 

“Oh, indeed? You had a quarrel?” 

“On the contrary. I told her that I was going to England, 
because, otherwise, she’d have insisted on supporting me. I 


got a bit bard up. . . . Jiverytning s penectiy an ngnt again, 
now,” I added hastily, seeing a look of concern on Bernhard s 

“Quite certain? I am very glad. . . , But what have you 
been doing with yourself, all this time?” 

“Living with a family of Eve in a two-room attic in Hal- 
lesches Tor.” 

Bernhard smiled: “By Jove, Christopher — ^what a romantic 
life you lead!” 

“Tm glad you call that kind of thing romantic. I don't!” 

We both laughed. 

“At any rate,” Bernhard said, “it seems to have agreed 
with you. You're looking the picture of health.” 

I couldn't return the compliment. I thought I had never 
seen Bernhard looking so ill. His face was pale and drawn; 
the weariness did not lift from it even when he smiled. There 
were deep sallow half-moons under his eyes. His hair seemed 
thinner. He might have added ten years to his age. 

“And how have you been getting on?” I asked. 

“My existence, in comparison with yours, is sadly hum- 
drum, I fear. . . . Nevertheless, there are certain tragi- 
comic diversions.” 

“What sort of diversions?” 

“This, for example ” Bernhard went over to his writing- 

desk, picked up a sheet of paper and handed it to me: “It 
arrived by post this morning.” 

I read the typed words: 

Bernhard Landauer, beware. We are going to settle 

the score with you and your uncle and all other filthy 

Jews. We give you twenty-four hours to leave Germany. 

If not, you are dead men. 

Bernhard laughed: “Bloodthirsty, isn't it?” 

“It's incredible. . . . Who do you suppose sent it?” 

“An employee who has been dismissed, perhaps. Or a 
practical joker. Or a madman. Or a hot-headed Nazi school- 

"‘What shall you do?^ 


“Surely you 11 tell the police?” 

“My dear Christopher, the police would very soon get tired 
of hearing such nonsense. We receive three or four such 
letters every week.” 

“All the same, this one may quite well be in earnest. . . . 
The Nazis may write like schoolboys, but theyVe capable of 
anything. That’s just why they’re so dangerous. People laugh 
at them, right up to the last moment. . . .” 

Bernhard smiled his tired smile: “I appreciate very much 
this anxiety of yours on my behalf. Nevertheless, I am quite 
unworthy of it. . . . My existence is not of such vital im- 
portance to myself or to others that the forces of the Law 
should be called upon to protect me. ... As for my uncle 
he is at present in Warsaw. . . 

I saw that he wished to change the subject: 

“Have you any news of Natalia and Frau Landauer?” 

“Oh yes, indeed! Natalia is married. Didn’t you know? To 
a young French doctor. ... I hear that daey are very 

“I’m so glad!” 

“Yes. . . . It’s pleasant to think of one’s friends being 
happy, isn’t it?” Bernhard crossed to the waste-paper basket 
and dropped the letter into it: “Especially in another coun- 
try. . . . ’ He smiled, gently and sadly. 

“And what do you think will happen in Germany, now?” I 
asked. “Is there going to be a Nazi putsch or a communist 

Bernhard laughed: “You have lost none of your enthusiasm, 
I see! I only wish that this question seemed as momentous to 
me as it does to you. ...” 

“It’ll seem momentous enough, one of these fine mornings” 
— ^the retort rose to my lips: I am glad now that I didn’t utter 
it. Instead, I asked: “Why do you wish that?” 

“Because it would be a sign of something healthier in my 
own character. ... It is right, nowadays, that one should 


be interested in such things; I recognize that. It is sane. It 
is healthy. . . . And because all this seems to me a little un- 
real, a little — ^please don’t be offended, Christopher — trivial, 
I know that I am getting out of touch with existence. That is 
bad, of course. . . . One must preserve a sense of proportion. 
... Do you know, there are times when I sit here alone in 
the evenings, amongst these books and stone figures, and 
there comes to me such a strange sensation of unreality, as 
if this were my whole life? Yes, actually, sometimes, I have 
felt a doubt as to whether our firm — that great building 
packed from floor to roof with all our accumulation of prop- 
erty — areally exists at all, except in my imagination. . . . 
And then I have had an unpleasant feeling, such as one has 
in a dream, that I myself do not exist. It is very morbid, very 
unbalanced, no doubt. ... I will make a confession to you, 
Christopher. . , . One evening, I was so much troubled by 
this hallucination of the non-existence of Landauers’ that I 
picked up my telephone and had a long conversation with 
one of the night-watchmen, making some stupid excuse for 
having troubled him. Just to reassure myseff, you under- 
stand? Don’t you think I must be becoming insane?” 

“I don’t think anything of the kind. ... It could have 
happened to anyone who has overworked.” 

“You recommend a holiday? A month in Italy, just as the 
spring is beginning? Yes. ... I remember the days when a 
month of Italian sunshine would have solved all my troubles. 
But now, alas, that drug has lost its power. Here is a paradox 
for you! Landauers’ is no longer real to me, yet I am more 
than ever its slave! You see the penalty of a life of sordid 
materialism. Take my nose away from the grindstone, and 
I become positively unhappy, . . . Ah, Christopher, be 
warned by my fate!” 

He smiled, spoke lightly, half banteringly. I didn’t like to 
pursue the subject further. 

“You know,” I said, “I really am going to England, now. I’m 
leaving in three or four days.” 

“I am sorry to hear it. How long do you expect to stay 


‘‘Probably the whole summer.’^ 

“You are tired of Berlin, at last?” 

“Oh no. ... I feel more as if Berlin had got tired of me.” 

“Then you will come back?” 

“Yes, I expect so.” 

“I believe that you will always come back to Berlin, Chris- 
topher. You seem to belong here,” 

“Perhaps I do, in a way.” 

“It is strange how people seem to belong to places — 
especially to places where they were not born. . . . When 
I first went to China, it seemed to me that I was at home 
there, for the first time in my life. . • . Perhaps, when I die, 
my spirit will be wafted to Peking.” 

“It’d be better if you let a train waft your body there, as 
soon as possible!” 

Bernhard laughed: “Very well. . • . I will follow your 
advice! But on two conditions — ^first, that you come with me; 
second, that we leave Berlin this evening.” 

‘Tou mean it?” 

“Certainly I do.” 

“What a pity! I should like to have come. . . . Unfor- 
tunately, I’ve only a hundred and fifty marks in the world.” 

“Naturally, you would be my guest.” 

“Oh, Beri^ard, how marvellous! We’d stop a few days in 
Warsaw, to get the visas. Then on to Moscow, and take the 
trans-Siberian. . . .” 

“So you’ll come?” 

“Of course!” 

“This evening?” 

I pretended to consider: “I’m afraid I can’t, this evening. 
... I’d have to get my washing back from the laundry, 
first. . . . What about to-morrow?” 

“To-morrow is too late.” 

“What a pity!” 

“Yes, isn’t it?” 

We both laughed. Bernhard seemed to be specially tickled 
by his joke. There was even something a little exaggerated in 
his laughter, as though the situation had some further dimen- 


sion of humour to which I hadn t penetrated. We were still 
laughing when I said good-bye. 

Perhaps I am slow at jokes. At any rate, it took me nearly 
eighteen months to see the point of this one — ^to recognize it 
as Bernhard's last, most daring and most cynical experiment 
upon us both. For now I am certain — absolutely convinced 
— ^that his offer was perfectly serious. 

When I returned to Berlin, in the autumn of 1932, 1 duly 
rang Bernhard up, only to be told that he was away, on busi- 
ness, in Hamburg. I blame myself now — one always does 
blame oneself afterwards — ^for not having been more per- 
sistent. But there was so much for me to do, so many pupils, 
so many other people to see; the weeks turned into months; 
Christmas came — I sent Bernhard a card but got no answer; 
he was away again, most likely; and then the New Year 

Hitler came, and the Reichstag fire, and the mock-elections. 
I wondered what was happening to Bernhard. Three times I 
rang him up— from call-boxes, lest I should get Frl. Schroeder 
into trouble; there was never any reply. Then, one evening 
early in April, I went round to his house. The caretaker put 
his head out of the tiny window, more suspicious than ever; 
at first, he seemed even inclined to deny that he knew Bern- 
hard at all. Then he snapped; "Herr Landauer has gone 
away . . . gone right away.” 

“Do you mean he s moved from here?” I asked. “Can you 
give me his address?” 

“He^s gone away,” the caretaker repeated, and slammed 
the window shut, 

I left it at that — concluding, not unnaturally, that Bern- 
hard was somewhere safe abroad. 

On the morning of the Jewish boycott, I walked round to 
take a look at Landauers\ Things seemed very much as usual, 


superficially. Two or three uniformed S.A. boys were posted 
at each of the big entrances. Whenever a shopper ap- 
proached, one of them would say: “Remember this is a 
Jewish business!” The boys were quite polite, grinning, mak- 
ing jokes among themselves. Little knots of passers-by col- 
lected to watch the performance — interested, amused or 
merely apathetic; still uncertain whether or not to approve. 
There was nothing of the atmosphere one read of later in 
the smaller provincial towns, where purchasers were forcibly 
disgraced with a rubber ink-stamp on the forehead and 
cheek. Quite a lot of people went into the building. I went 
in myself, bought the first thing I saw — ^it happened to be a 
nutmeg-grater — and strolled out again, twirling my small 
parcel. One of the boys at the door winked and said some- 
thing to his companion. I remembered having seen him once 
or twice at the Alexander Casino, in the days when I was 
living with the Nowaks. 

In May, I left Berlin for the last time. My first stop was 
at Prague — and it was there, sitting one evening alone, in 
a cellar restaurant, that I heard, indirectly, my last news of 
the Landauer family. 

Two men were at the next table, talking German. One of 
them was certainly an Austrian; the other I couldn t place 
— ^he was fat and sleek, about forty-five, and might well have 
owned a small business in any European capital, from Bel- 
grade to Stockholm. Both of them were undoubtedly prosper- 
ous, technically Aryan, and politically neuter. The fat man 
startled me into attention by saying: 

“You know Landauers’? Landauers' of Berlin?” 

The Austrian nodded: “Sure, I do. . . . Did a lot of busi- 
ness with them, one time. . . . Nice place they’ve got there. 
Must have cost a bit . . .” 

“Seen the papers, this morning?” 

“No. Didn’t have time. . . . Moving into our new flat, 
you know. The wife’s coming back.” 


“She’s coming back? You don’t say! Been in Vienna, hasn’t 

“That’s right.” 

“Had a good time?” 

“Trust her! It cost enough, anyway.” 

“Vienna’s pretty dear, these days.” 

“It is that.” 

“Food’s dear.” 

“It’s dear everywhere.” 

“I guess you’re right.” The fat man began to pick his teeth: 
"What was I saying?” 

“You were saying about Landauers’.” 

“So I was. . . . You didn’t read the papers, this morn- 

"No, I didn’t read them,” 

“There was a bit in about Bernhard Landauer.” 

“Bernhard?” said the Austrian. “Let’s see — he’s the son, 
isn’t he?” 

“I wouldn’t know. . . ” The fat man dislodged a tiny 
fragment of meat with the point of his toothpick. Holding it 
up to the light, he regarded it thoughtfully. 

“I think he’s the son,” said the Austrian. “Or maybe the 
nephew. . . . No, I think he’s the son.” 

“Whoever he is,” the fat man flicked the scrap of meat on 
to his plate witli a gesture of distaste: “He’s dead,” 

“You don’t say!” 

“Heart failure.” The fat man frowned, and raised his hand 
to cover a belch. He was wearing three gold rings; “That’s 
what the newspapers said,” 

“Heart failurel” The Austrian shifted uneasily in his chair; 
“You don’t sayl” 

“There’s a lot of heart failure,” said the fat man, “in Ger- 
many these days.” 

The Austrian nodded: ‘Tou can’t believe all you hear. 
That’s a fact.” 

“If vou ask me ” said the fat man, “anyone’s heart’s liable to 
fail, if it gets a bullet inside it” 


The Austrian looked very uncomfortable: ‘‘Those 
Nazis . . he began. 

“They mean business.” The fat man seemed rather to enjoy 
making his friend's flesh creep. “You mark my words: they're 
going to clear the Jews right out of Germany. Right out.” 

The Austrian shook his head: “I don't like it.” 

“Concentration camps,” said the fat man, lighting a cigar. 
“They get them in there, make them sign things. . . . Then 
their hearts fail.” 

“I don't like it,” said the Austrian. “It's bad for trade.” 

“Yes,” the fat man agreed. “It's bad for trade.” 

“Makes everything so uncertain.” 

“That's right. Never know who you're doing business 
with.” The fat man laughed. In his own way, he was rather 
macabre: “It might be a corpse.” 

The Austrian shivered a little: “What about the old man, 
old Landauer? Did they get him, too?” 

“No, he's all right. Too smart for them. He's in Paris.” 

“You don't say!” 

“I reckon the Nazis'!! take over the business. They're doing 
that, now.” 

“Then old Landauer'll be ruined, I guess?” 

“Not him!” The fat man flicked the ash from his cigar, 
contemptuously. “He’ll have a bit put by, somewhere. You'll 
see. He'll start something else. They're smart, those 
Jews. . . .” 

“That’s right,” the Austrian agreed. “You can't keep a 
Jew down.” 

The thought seemed to cheer him, a little. He brightened: 
“That reminds me! I knew there was something I wanted 
to tell you. . . . Did you ever hear the story about the Jew 
and the Goy girl with the wooden leg?” 

“No.” The fat man puffed at his cigar. His digestion was 
working well, now. He was in the right after-dinner mood: 
“Go ahead. . • 


(Winter 1932-3) 

To-night, for the first time this winter, it is very cold. The 
dead cold grips the town in utter silence, like the silence of 
intense midday summer heat. In the cold the town seems 
actually to contract, to dwindle to a small black dot, scarcely 
larger than hundreds of other dots, isolated and hard to find, 
on the enormous European map. Outside, in the night, be- 
yond the last new-built blocks of concrete flats, where the 
streets end in frozen allotment gardens, are the Prussian 
plains. You can feel them all round you, to-night, creeping in 
upon the city, like an immense waste of unhomely ocean — 
sprinkled with leafless copses and ice-lakes and tiny villages 
which are remembered only as the outlandish names of 
battlefields in half-forgotten wars. Berlin is a skeleton which 
aches in the cold: it is my own skeleton aching. I feel in my 
bones the sharp ache of the frost in the girders of the over- 
head railway, in the ironwork of balconies, in bridges, tram- 
lines, lamp-standards, latrines. The iron throbs and shrinks, 
the stone and the bricks ache dully, the plaster is numb. 

Berlin is a city with two centres — ^the cluster of expensive 
hotels, bars, cinemas, shops round the Memorial Church, a 
sparkling nucleus of light, like a sham diamond, in the 
shabby twilight of the town; and the self-conscious civic 
centre of buildings round the Unter den Linden, carefully 
arranged. In grand international styles, copies of copies, they 
assert our dignity as a capital city — a. parliament, a couple of 
museuins, a State bank, a cathedral, an opera, a dozen em- 
bassies, a triumphal arch; nothing has been forgotten. And 
they are all so pompous, so very correct — ^all except the ca- 


thedral, which betrays, in its architecture, a flash of that 
hysteria which flickers always behind every grave, grey 
Prussian fagade. Extinguished by its absurd dome, it is, at 
first sight, so startlingly funny that one searches for a name 
suitably preposterous — the Church of the Immaculate Con- 

But tlie real heart of Berlin is a small damp black wood — 
the Tiergarten. At this time of the year, the cold begins to 
drive the peasant boys out of their tiny unprotected villages 
into the city, to look for food, and work. But the city, which 
glowed so brightly and invitingly in the night sky above the 
plains, is cold and cruel and dead. Its warmth is an illusion, 
a mirage of the winter desert. It will not receive these boys. It 
has nothing to give. The cold drives them out of its streets, 
into the wood which is its cruel heart. And there they cower 
on benches, to starve and freeze, and dream of their far- 
away cottage stoves. 

Frl. Schroeder hates the cold. Huddled in her fur-lined 
velvet jacket, she sits in the corner with her stockinged feet 
on the stove. Sometimes she smokes a cigarette, sometimes she 
sips a glass of tea, but mostly she just sits, staring dully at the 
stove tiles in a kind of hibernation-doze. She is lonely, nowa- 
days. Frl. Mayr is away in Holland, on a cabaret-tour. So 
Frl. Schroeder has nobody to talk to, except Bobby and 

Bobby, anyhow, is in deep disgrace. Not only is he out of 
work and three months behind with the rent, but Frl. 
Schroeder has reason to suspect him of stealing money from 
her bag. “You know, Herr Issyvoo,” she tells me, “I shouldn’t 
wonder at all if he didn’t pinch those fifty marks from Frl. 
Kost. . . . He’s quite capable of it, the pig! To think I could 
ever have been so mistaken in him! Will you believe it, Herr 
Issyvoo, I treated him as if he were my own son — ^and this is 
the thanks I get! He says he’ll pay me every pfennig if he 
gets this job as barman at the Lady Windermere ... if , 


if , . " Frl. Schroeder sniEs with intense scorn:; “I dare 
say! If my giandmother had wheels, she’d be an omnibus!” 

Bobby has been turned out of his old room and banished 
to the ‘"Swedish Pavilion.” It must be terribly draughty, up 
there. Sometimes poor Bobby looks quite blue with cold. He 
has changed very much during the last year — ^his hair is 
thinner, his clotlies are shabbier, his cheekiness has become 
defiant and rather pathetic. People like Bobby are their jobs 
— take the job away and they partially cease to exist. Some- 
times, he sneaks into the living-room, unshaven, his hands 
in his pockets, and lounges about uneasily defiant, whistling 
to himself — ^the dance tunes he whistles are no longer quite 
new. Frl. Schroeder throws him a word, now and lien, like a 
grudging scrap of bread, but she won’t look at him or make 
room for him by the stove. Perhaps she has never really for- 
given him for his affair with Frl. Kost. The tickling and 
bottom-slapping days are over. 

Yesterday we had a visit from Frl. Kost herself. I was out at 
the time: when I got back I found Frl. Schroeder quite ex- 
cited. “Only thinl^ Herr Issyvoo — ^I wouldn’t have known 
her! She’s quite the lady now! Her Japanese friend has bought 
her a fur coat — real mr, I shouldn’t like to think what he 
must have paid for it! And her shoes — genuine snakesldn! 
Well, well, I bet she earned them! That’s the one kind of 
business that still goes well, nowadays. ... I think I shall 
have to take to the line myself!” But however much Frl. 
Schroeder might affect sarcasm at FrL Kost’s expense, I 
could see that she’ d been greatly and not unfavourably im- 
pressed. And it wasn’t so much the fur coat or the shoes 
which had impressed her: Frl. Kost had achieved something 
higher — ^the hall-mark of respectability in Frl. Schroeder’s 
world — ^she had had an operation in a private nursing home. 
“Oh, not what you think, Herr Issyvoo! It was sometiiing to 
do with her throat. Her friend paid for that, too, of course. 
. * , Only imagine — ^the doctors cut something out of the 


back of her nose; and now she can fill her mouth with water 
and squirt it out through her nostrils, just like a syringe! I 
wouldn’t believe it at first — ^but she did it to show me! My 
word of honour, Herr Issyvoo, she could squirt it right across 
the kitchen! There’s no denying, she’s very much improved, 
since the time when she used to live here. ... I shouldn’t 
be surprised if she married a bank director one of these days. 
Oh, yes, you mark my words, that girl will go far. • . 

Herr Krampf, a young engineer, one of my pupils, describes 
his childhood during the days of the War and the Inflation. 
During the last years of the War, the straps disappeared 
from the windows of railway carriages: people had cut them 
off in order to sell the leather. You even saw men and women 
going about in clothes made from the carriage upholstery, A 
party of Krampf s school friends broke into a factory one 
night and stole all the leather driving-belts. Everybody stole. 
Everybody sold what they had to sell — ^themselves included. 
A boy of fourteen, from Krampf s class, peddled cocaine be- 
tween school hours, in the streets. 

Farmers and butchers were omnipotent. Their slightest 
whim had to be gratified, if you wanted vegetables or meat. 
The Krampf family knew of a butcher in a little village out- 
side Berlin who always had meat to sell. But the butcher had 
a peculiar sexual perversion. His greatest erotic pleasure was 
to pinch and slap the cheeks of a sensitive, weU-bred girl or 
woman. The possibility of thus humiliating a lady like Frau 
Krampf excited him enormously: unless he was allowed to 
realize his fantasy, he refused, absolutely, to do business. So, 
every Sunday, Krampf s mother would travel out to the vil- 
lage with her children, and patiently offer her cheeks to be 
slapped and pinched, in exchange for some cutlets or a steak. 

At the far end of the Potsdamerstrasse, there is a fair- 
ground, with merry-go-roimds, swings and peep-shows. One 


of the chief attractions of the fair-ground is a tent where 
boxing and wrestling matches are held. You pay your money 
and go in, the wrestlers fight three or four rounds, and the 
referee then announces that, if you want to see any more, you 
must pay an extra ten pfennigs. One of the wrestlers is a 
bald man with a very large stomach: he wears a pair of can- 
vas trousers rolled up at the bottoms, as though he were go- 
ing paddling. His opponent wears black tights, and leather 
kneelets which look as if they had come off an old cab-horse. 
The wrestlers throw each other about as much as possible, 
turning somersaults in the air to amuse the audience. The fat 
man who plays the part of loser pretends to get very angry 
when he is beaten, and threatens to fight the referee. 

One of the boxers is a negro. He invariably wins. The 
boxers hit each other with the open glove, making a tre- 
mendous amount of noise. The other boxer, a tall, well-built 
young man, about twenty years younger and obviously much 
stronger than the negro, is “knocked out” with absurd ease. 
He writhes in great agony on the floor, nearly manages to 
struggle to his feet at 3ie count of ten, then collapses again, 
groaning. After this fight, the referee collects ten more pfen- 
nigs and calls for a challenger from the audience. Before any 
bona fide challenger can apply, another young man, who has 
been quite openly chatting and joking with the wrestlers, 
jumps hastily into the ring and strips off his clothes, revealing 
himself already dressed in shorts and boxer s boots. The 
referee announces a purse of five marks; and, this time, the 
negro is "Toiocked out.” 

The audience took the fights dead seriously, shouting en- 
couragement to the fighters, and even quarrelling and betting 
amongst themselves on the results. Yet nearly all of them 
had been in the tent as long as I had, and stayed on after I 
had left The political moral is certainly depressing: these 
people could be made to believe in anybody or anySiing. 

Walking this evening along the Kleiststrasse, I saw a htfle 
crowd ga^ered round a private car. In the car were two girls: 


on the pavement stood two young Jews, engaged in a violent 
argument with a large blond man who was obviously rather 
drunk. The Jews, it seemed, had been driving slowly along 
the street, on the look-out for a pick-up, and had offered these 
girls a ride. The two girls had accepted and got into the car. 
At this moment, however, the blond man had intervened. He 
was a Nazi, he told us, and as such felt it his mission to defend 
the honour of all German women against the obscene anti- 
Nordic menace. The two Jews didn’t seem in the least in- 
timidated; they told the Nazi energetically to mind his own 
business. Meanwhile, the girls, taking advantage of the row, 
slipped out of the car and ran off down the street. The Nazi 
then tried to drag one of the Jews with him to find a police- 
man, and the Jew whose arm he had seized gave him an 
uppercut which laid him sprawhng on his back. Before the 
Nazi could get to his feet, both young men had jumped into 
their car and driven away. The crowd dispersed slowly, argu- 
ing. Very few of them sided openly with the Nazi: several 
supported the Jews; but the majority confined themselves 
to shaking their heads dubiously and murmuring: "‘Aller- 

When, three hours later, I passed the same spot, the Nazi 
was still patrolling up and down, looking hungrily for more 
German womanhood to rescue. 

We have just got a letter from Frl. Mayr: Frl. Schroeder 
called me in to listen to it. Frl. Mayr doesn’t like Holland. 
She has been obliged to sing in a lot of second-rate cafes in 
third-rate towns, and her bedroom is often badly heated. The 
Dutch, she writes, have no culture; she has only met one 
truly refined and superior gentleman, a widower. The wid- 
ower tells her that she is really womanly woman — ^he has no 
use for young chits of girls. He has shown his admiration for 
her art by presenting her with a complete new set of under- 

Frl. Mayr has also had trouble with her colleagues. At one 
town, a rival actress, jealous of Frl. Mayr s vocal powers, 
tried to stab her in the eye with a hatpin. I can t help admir- 
ing that actress’s courage. When Frl. Mayr had finished with 


her, she was so badly injured that she couldn't appear on the 
stage again for a week. 

Last night, Fritz Wendel proposed a tour of “the dives.” 
It was to be in the nature of a farewell visit, for the Police 
have begun to take a great interest in these places. They are 
frequently raided, and the names of their clients are written 
down. There is even talk of a general Berlin clean-up. 

I rather upset him by insisting on visiting the Salome, 
which I had never seen. Fritz, as a connoisseur of night-life, 
was most contemptuous. It wasn't even genuine, he told me. 
The management run it entirely for the benefit of provincial 

The Salome turned out to be very expensive and even 
more depressing than I had imagined. A few stage lesbians 
and some young men with plucked eyebrows lounged at the 
bar, uttering occasional raucous guflFaws or treble hoots — 
supposed, apparently, to represent the laughter of the 
damned. The whole premises are painted gold and infemo- 
red — crimson plush inches thick, and vast gilded mirrors. 
It was pretty full. The audience consisted chiefly of re- 
spectable middle-aged ti'adesmen and their families, ex- 
claiming in good-humoured amazement: “Do they really?” 
and “Well, I never!” We went out half-way through the 
cabaret performance, after a young man in a spangled crin- 
oline and jewelled breast-caps had painfully but success- 
fully executed three splits. 

At the entrance we met a party of American youths, very 
drunk, wondering whether to go in. Their leader was a small 
stocky young man in pince-nez, with an annoyingly promi- 
nent jaw. 

“Say,” he asked Fritz, “what's on here?” 

“Men dressed as women,” Fritz grinned. 

The little American simply couldn't believe it. “Men 
dressed as women? As women hey? Do you mean they're 


"Eventually we^re all queer,” drawled Fritz solemnly, in 
lugubrious tones. The young man looked us over slowly. He 
had been running and was still out of breath. The others 
grouped themselves awkwardly behind him, ready for any- 
tihiing — though their callow, open-mouthed faces in the 
greenish lamp-light looked a bit scared. 

“You queer, too, hey?” demanded the Httle American, turn- 
ing suddenly on me. 

“Yes,” I said, “very queer indeed.” 

He stood before me a moment, panting, thrusting out his 
jaw, uncertain it seemed, whether he ought not to hit me in 
the face. Then he turned, uttered some Hnd of wild college 
battle-cry, and, followed by the others, rushed headlong into 
the building. 

“Ever been to that communist dive near the Zoo?” Fritz 
asked me, as we were walking away from the Salome. “Even- 
tually we should cast an eye in there. ... In six months, 
maybe, well all be wearing red shirts. . . .” 

I agreed. I was curious to know what Fritzs idea of a 
“communist dive” would be like. 

It was, in fact, a small whitewashed cellar. You sat on 
long wooden benches at big bare tables; a dozen people to- 
gether— like a school dining-hall. On the walls were scribbled 
expressionist drawings involving actual newspaper clippings, 
real playing-cards, nailed-on beer-mats, match-boxes, ciga- 
rette cartons, and heads cut out of photographs. The 
was full of students, dressed mostly with aggressive political 
untidiness — ^the men in sailor s sweaters and stained baggy 
trousers, the girls in ill-fitting jumpers, skirts held visibly to- 
gether with safety-pins and carelessly knotted gaudy gipsy 
scarves. The proprietress was smoking a cigar. The boy who 
acted as a waiter lounged about with a cigarette between 
his lips and slapped customers on the back when taking their 

It was all thoroughly sham and gay and joUy: you couldnt 


help feeling at home, immediately. Fritz, as usual, recognized 
plenty of friends. He introduced me to three of them — a man 
called Martin, an art student named Werner, and Inge, his 
girl. Inge was broad and lively — she wore a Httle hat with 
a feather in it which gave her a kind of farcical resemblance 
to Henry the Eighth. While Werner and Inge chattered, Mar- 
tin sat silent: he was thin and dark and hatchet-faced, with 
the sardonically superior smile of the conscious conspirator. 
Later in the evening, when Fritz and Werner and Inge had 
moved down the table to join another party, Martin began 
to talk about the coming civil war. When the war breaks out, 
Martin explained, the communists, who have very few 
machine-guns, will get command of the roof tops. They will 
then keep the Police at bay with hand-grenades. It will only 
be necessary to hold out for three days, because the Soviet 
fleet will make an immediate dash for Swinemiinde and begin 
to land troops. ‘1 spend most of my time now making bombs,” 
Martin added. I nodded and grinned, very much embar- 
rassed — ^uncertain whether he was making fun of me, or 
deliberately committing some appalling indiscretion. He cer- 
tainly wasn’t drunk, and he didba’t strike me as merely in- 

Presently, a strikingly handsome boy of sixteen or seven- 
teen came into the cafe. His name was Rudi. He was dressed 
in a Russian blouse, leather shorts and despatch-rider s 
boots, and he strode up to our table with all the heroic man- 
nerisms of a messenger who returns successful from a desper- 
ate mission. He had, however, no message of any kind to de- 
liver. After his whirlwind entry, and a succession of curt, 
martial handshakes, he sat down quite quietly beside us and 
ordered a glass of tea. 

This evening, I visited the “communist” cafe again. It is 
really a fascinating little world of intrigue and counter- 
intrigue. Its Napoleon is the sinister bomb-making Martin; 


Werner is its Danton; Rudi its Joan of Arc. Everybody sus- 
pects everybody else. Already Martin has warned me against 
Werner: he is ‘politically unrehable’' — last summer he stole 
the entire funds of a communist youth organization. And 
Werner has warned me against Martin: he is either a Nazi 
agent, or a police spy, or in the pay of the French Govern- 
ment. In addition to this, both Martin and Werner earnestly 
advised me to have nothing to do with Rudi — ^they absolutely 
refused to say why. 

But there was no question of having nothing to do with 
Rudi. He planted himself down beside me and began talking 
at once — a hurricane of enthusiasm. His favourite word is 
Tcnorke’’: “Oh, rippingr He is a pathfinder. He wanted to 
know what the boy scouts were hke in England. Had they 
got the spirit of adventure? “All German boys are adventur- 
ous. Adventure is ripping. Our Scoutmaster is a ripping man. 
Last year he went to Lapland and lived in a hut, all through 
the summer, alone. . . . Are you a communist?’' 

“No. Are you?” 

Rudi was pained. 

“Of course! We all are, here. . . . Ill lend you some books, 
if you like. . . . You ought to come and see our club-house. 
It’s ripping. . . . We sing the Red Flag, and all the forbid- 
den songs. , . . Will you teach me English? I want to leam 
all languages.” 

I asked 3 there were any girls in his pathfinder group. Rudi 
was as shocked as if I’d said something really indecent. 

“Women are no good,” he told me bitterly. “They spoil 
everything. They haven’t got the spirit of adventure. Men 
understand each other much better when they’re alone to- 
gether. Uncle Peter (that’s our Scoutmaster) says womeir 
should stay at home and mend socks. That’s all they’re fit 

“Is Uncle Peter a communist, too?” 

“Of course!” Rudi looked at me suspiciously. “Why do you 
ask that?” 


“Oh, no special reason,"" I replied hastily. “I think perhaps 
I was mixing him up with somebody else. . . 

This afternoon I travelled out to the reformatory to visit 
one of my pupils, Herr Brink, who is a master there. He is 
a small, broad-shouldered man, with the thin, dead-looking 
fair hair, mild eyes, and bulging, over-heavy forehead of the 
German vegetarian intellectual. He wears sandals and an 
open-necked shirt. I found him in the gymnasium, giving 
physical instruction to a class of mentally deficient children 
— ^for the reformatory houses mental deficients as well as 
juvenile delinquents. With a certain melancholy pride, he 
pointed out the various cases: one little boy was suffering 
from hereditary syphilis — ^he had a fearful squint; another, 
the child of elderly drunkards, couldn’t stop laughing. They 
clambered about the wall-bars like monkeys, laughing and 
chattering, seemingly quite happy. 

Then we went up to the workshop, where older boys in 
blue overalls — all convicted criminals — ^were making boots. 
Most of the boys looked up and grinned when Brink came 
in, only a few were sullen. But I couldn’t look them in the 
eyes. I felt horribly guilty and ashamed; I seemed, at that mo- 
ment, to have become the sole representative of their gaolers, 
of Capitalist Society, I wondered if any of them had actually 
been arrested in the Alexander Casino, and, if so, whether 
they recognized me. 

We had lunch in the matron s room. Herr Brink apologized 
for giving me the same food as the boys themselves ate — 
potato soup with two sausages, and a dish of apples and 
stewed prunes. I protested — ^as, no doubt, I was intended to 
protest — ^that it was very good. And yet the thought of the 
boys having to eat it, or any other kind of meal, in that build- 
ing, made each spoonful stick in my throat. Institution food 
has an indescribable, perhaps purely imaginary, taste. (One 
of the most vivid and sickening memories of my own school 
life is the smell of ordinary white bread.) 


“You don t have any bars or locked gates here ” I said. 
“I thought all reformatories had them. . . . Don t your boys 
often run away?’' 

“Hardly ever,” said Brink, and the admission seemed to 
make him positively unhappy; he sank his head wearily in 
his hands. “Where shall they run to? Here it is bad. At home 
it is worse. The majority of them know that.” 

“But isn’t there a kind of natural instinct for free- 

“Yes, you are right. But the boys soon lose it. The system 
helps them to lose it. I think perhaps that, in Germans, this 
instinct is never very strong.” 

“You don’t have much trouble here, then?” 

“Oh, yes. Sometimes. . . . Three months ago, a terrible 
thing happened. One boy stole another boy’s overcoat. He 
ask-ed for permission to go into the town — ^diat is allowed — 
and possibly he meant to sell it. But the owner of the overcoat 
followed him, and they had a fight. The boy to whom the 
overcoat belonged took up a big stone and flung it at the 
other boy; and this boy, feeling himself hurt, deliberately 
smeared dirt into the wound, hoping to make it worse and so 
escape punishment. The wound did get worse. In three days 
the boy died of blood-poisoning. And when the other boy 
heard of this he killed himself with a kitchen knife. . . 
Brink sighed deeply: “Sometimes I almost despair,” he added. 
“It seems as if there were a kind of badness, a disease, in- 
fecting the world to-day.” 

“But what can you really do for these boys?” I asked. 

“Very little. We teach them a trade. Later, we try to find 
them work — ^which is almost impossible. If they have work 
in the neighbourhood, they can still sleep here at nights. 
. . . The Principal believes that their lives can be changed 
through the teachings of the Christian religion. I’m afraid I 
cannot feel this. The problem is not so simple. I’m afraid that 
most of them, if they cannot get work, will take to crime. 
After all, people cannot be ordered to starve.” 

“Isn’t there any alternative?” 


Brink rose and led me to the window. 

“You see those two buildings? One is the engineering- 
works, the other is the prison. For the boys of this district 
there used to be two alternatives. . . . But now the works 
are bankrupt. Next week they will close down.” 

• • • 

This morning I went to see Rudfs club-house, which is 
also the oflSce of a pathfinders’ magazine. The editor and 
scoutmaster, Uncle Peter, is a haggard, youngish man, with 
a parchment-coloured face and deeply sunken eyes, dressed 
in corduroy jacket and shorts. He is evidently Rudi’s idol. 
The only time Rudi will stop talking is when Uncle Peter 
has something to say. They showed me dozens of photo- 

g raphs of boys, all taken with the camera tilted upwards, 
om beneath, so that they look like epic giants, in profile 
against enormous clouds. The magazine itself has articles on 
hunting, tracking, and preparing food — all written in super- 
enthusiastic style, with a curious underlying note of hysteria, 
as though the actions described were part of a religious or 
erotic ritual. There were half-a-dozen other boys in the 
room with us: all of them in a state of heroic semi-nudity, 
wearing the shortest of shorts and the thinnest of shirts or 
singlets, although the weather is so cold. 

When I had finished looking at the photographs, Rudi took 
me into the club meeting-room. Long coloured banners hung 
down the walls, embroidered with initials and mysterious 
totem devices. At one end of the room was a low table covered 
with a crimson embroidered cloth — a. kind of altar. On the 
table were candles in brass candlesticks. 

"We light them on Thursdays,” Rudi explained, ‘when we 
have our camp-fire palaver. Then we sit round in a ring on 
the floor, and sing songs and tell stories.” 

Above the table wi3i the candlesticks was a sort of icon — 
the framed drawing of a young pathfinder of unearthly 
beauty, gazing sternly into the far distance, a banner in 
his hand. The whole place made me feel profoundly un- 


comfortable. I excused myself and got away as soon as I 

• • • 

Overheard in a cafe: a young Nazi is sitting with his girl; 
they are discussing the future of the Party. The Nazi is drunk. 

"Oh, I know we shall win, all right,” he exclaims impa- 
tiently, "but that’s not enough!” He thumps the table with 
his fist: "Blood must flow!” 

The girl strokes his arm reassuringly. She is trying to get 
him to come home. "But, of course, it’s going to flow, darling,” 
she coos soothingly, "the Leaders promised that in our 

To-day is "Silver Sunday ” The streets are crowded with 
shoppers. All along the Tauentzienstrasse, men, women and 
boys are hawking postcards, flowers, song-books, hair-oil, 
bracelets. Christmas-trees are stacked for sale along the cen- 
tral path between the tram-lines. Uniformed S.A. men rattle 
their collecting-boxes. In the side-streets, lorry-loads of 
police are waiting; for any large crowd, nowadays, is capable 
of turning into a political riot. The Salvation Army have a big 
illuminated tree on the Wittenbergplatz, with a blue electric 
star. A group of students were standing round it, making 
sarcastic remarks. Among them I recognized Werner, from 
the "communist” cafe. 

"This time next year,” said Werner, "that star will have 
changed its colour!” He laughed violently — ^he was in an 
excited, slightly hysterical mood. Yesterday, he told me, 
he’d had a great adventure: "You see, three other comrades 
and myself decided to make a demonstration at the Labour 
Exchange in Neukolln, I had to speak, and the others were 
to see I wasn’t interrupted. We went round there at about 
half-past ten, when the bureau’s most crowded. Of course, 
we’d planned it aU beforehand — each of the comrades had to 
hold one of the doors, so that none of the clerks in the oflBce 
could get out. There they were, cooped up like rabbits. . . . 
Of course, we couldn’t prevent their telephoning for the 


Police, we knew that. We reckoned we’d got six or seven 
minutes . . . Well, as soon as the doors were fixed, I jumped 
on to a table. I just yelled out whatever came into my head 
— don’t know what I said. They liked it, anyhow. . . . 
In half a minute I had them so excited I got quite scared. I 
was afraid they’d break into the office and lynch somebody. 
There was a ffiie old shindy, I can tell you! But just when 
things were beginning to look properly lively, a comrade came 
up from below to tell us the Police were there already — just 
getting out of their car. So we had to make a dash for it. . . . 
I think they’d have got us, only the crowd was on our side, 
and wouldn’t let them through until we were out by the other 
door, into the street. . . Werner finished breathlessly. “I 
tell you, Christopher,” he added, “the capitalist system can’t 
possibly last much longer now. The workers are on the move!” 

Early this evening I was in the Biilowstrasse. There had 
been a big Nazi meeting at the Sportpalast, and groups of 
men and boys were just coming away from it, in their brown 
or black uniforms. Walking along the pavement ahead of me 
were three S.A. men. They all carried Nazi banners on their 
shoulders, like rifles, rolled tight round the staves — ^the 
banner-staves had sharp metal points, shaped into arrow- 

All at once, the three S.A. men came face to face with a 
youth of seventeen or eighteen, dressed in civilian clothes, 
who was hurrying along in the opposite direction. I heard 
one of the Nazis shout: “That’s him!” and immediately all 
three of them flung themselves upon the young man. He 
uttered a scream, and tried to dodge, but they were too quick 
for him. In a moment they had jostled him into the shadow of 
a house entrance, and were standing over him, kicking him 
and stabbing at him with the sharp metal points of their 
banners. All this happened with such incredible speed that 
I could hardly believe my eyes — already, the three S.A. men 
had left their victim, and were barging their way through 


the crowd; they made for the stairs which led up to the 
station of the Overhead Railway. 

Another passer-by and myself were the first to reach the 
doorway where the young man was lying. He lay huddled 
crookedly in the comer, like an abandoned sack. As they 
picked him up, I got a sickening glimpse of his face — ^his left 
eye was poked half out, and blood poured from the wound. 
He wasn t dead. Somebody volunteered to take him to the 
hospital in a taxi. 

By this time, dozens of people were looking on. They 
seemed surprised, but not particularly shocked — ^this sort of 
thing happens too often, nowadays. *^Allerhand. . . r they 
murmured. Twenty yards away, at the Potsdamerstrasse cor- 
ner, stood a group of heavily armed policemen. With their 
chests out, and their hands on their revolver belts, they mag- 
nificently disregarded the whole affair. 

Werner has become a hero. His photograph was in the 
Rote Fahne a few days ago, captioned: “Another victim of 
the Police blood-bath.*' Yesterday, which was New Years 
day, I went to visit him in hospital. 

Just after Christmas, it seems, there was a streetfight near 
the Stettiner Bahnhof. Werner was on the edge of the crowd, 
not knowing what the fight was about. On the off-chance 
that it might be something political, he began yelling: “Red 
Front!” A policeman tried to arrest him. Wemer kicked the 
policeman in the stomach. The policeman drew his revolver 
and shot Werner three times through the leg. When he had 
finished shooting, he called another policeman, and together 
they carried Wemer into a taxi. On the way to the police- 
station, the policemen hit him on the head with their trun- 
cheons, until he fainted. When he has sufficiently recovered, 
he will, most probably, be prosecuted. 

He told me all this with the greatest satisfaction, sitting 
up in bed surroimded by his admiring friends, including 
Rudx and Inge, in her Henry the Eighdi hat Around him, 


on the blanket, lay his press-cuttings. Somebody had care- 
fully underlined each mention of Werner s name with a red 

To-day, January 22nd, the Nazis held a demonstration 
on the Biilowplatz, in front of the Karl Liebknecht House. 
For the last week the communists have been trying to get the 
demonstration forbidden; they say it is simply intended as 
a provocation — as, of course, it was. I went along to watch 
it with Frank, the newspaper correspondent. 

As Frank himself said afterwards, this washt really a Nazi 
demonstration at all, but a Police demonstration — there were 
at least two policemen to every Nazi present. Perhaps Gen- 
eral Schleicher only allowed the march to take place in order 
to show who are the real masters of Berlin. Everybody says 
he’s going to proclaim a military dictatorship. 

But the real masters of Berlin are not the Police, or the 
Army, and certainly not the Nazis. The masters of Berlin are 
the workers — despite all the propaganda I’ve heard and read, 
all the demonstrations I’ve attended, I only realized this, for 
the first time to-day. Comparatively few of the hundreds of 
people in the streets round the Biilowplatz can have been 
organized communists, yet you had the feehng that every 
single one of them was united against this march. Somebody 
began to sing the ‘International,” and, in a moment, everyone 
had joined in — even the women with their babies, watching 
from top-storey windows. The Nazis slunk past, marching 
as fast as they knew how, between their double rows of pro- 
tectop. Most of them kept their eyes on the ground, or glared 
glassily ahead: a few attempted sickly, furtive grins. When 
the procession had passed, an elderly fat little S.A. man, who 
had somehow got left behind, came panting along at the 
double, desperately scared at finding himself alone, and try- 
ing vainly to catch up with the rest. The whole crowd roared 
with laughter. 

During the demonstration nobody was allowed on the 


Biilowplatz itself. So the crowd surged uneasily about, and 
things began to look nasty. The police, brandishing their 
rifles, ordered us back; some of the less experienced ones, 
getting rattled, made as if to shoot. Then an armoured car 
appeared, and started to turn its machine-gun slowly in our 
direction. There was a stampede into house doorways and 
cafes; but no sooner had the car moved on, than everybody 
rushed out into the street again, shouting and singing. It was 
too much like a naughty schoolboy’s game to be seriously 
alarming. Frank enjoyed himself enormously, grinning from 
ear to ear, and hopping about, in his flapping overcoat and 
huge owlish spectacles, like a mocking, ungainly bird. 

Only a week since I wrote the above. Schleicher has re- 
signed. The monocles did their stuff. Hitler has formed a 
cabinet with Hugenberg. Nobody thinks it can last till the 

The newspapers are becoming more and more like copies 
of a school magazine. There is nothing in them but new rules, 
new punishments, and lists of people who have been ‘Tcept 
in." This morning, Goring has invented three fresh varieties 
of high treason. 

Every evening, I sit in the big half -empty artists’ caf6 by 
the Memorial Church, where the Jews and left-wing intel- 
lectuals bend their heads together over the marble tables, 
speaking in low, scared voices. Many of them know that they 
will certainly be arrested— if not to-day, then to-morrow or 
next week. So they are polite and mild with each other, and 
raise their hats and enquire after their colleagues’ families. 
Notorious literary tiffs of several years’ standing are for- 

Almost every evening, the S.A. men come into the caf4. 
Sometimes they are only collecting money; everybody is com- 
pelled to give something. Sometimes they have come to 


make an arrest. One evening a Jewish writer, who was pres- 
ent, ran into the telephone-box to ring up the Police. The 
Nazis dragged him out, and he was taken away. Nobody 
moved a finger. You could have heard a pin drop, till they 
were gone. 

The foreign newspaper correspondents dine every night at 
the same little Italian restaurant, at a big round table, in the 
corner. Everybody else in the restaurant is watching them 
and trying to overhear what they are saying. If you have a 
piece of news to bring them — ^the details of an arrest, or the 
address of a victim whose relatives might be interviewed — 
then one of the journalists leaves the table and walks up and 
down with you outside, in the street. 

A young communist I know was arrested by the S.A. men, 
taken to a Nazi barracks, and badly knocked about. After 
three or four days, he was released and went home. Next 
morning there was a knock at the door. The communist 
hobbled over to open it, his arm in a sling — and there stood 
a Nazi with a collecting-box. At the sight of him the com- 
munist completely lost his temper. “Isht it enough,*' he 
yelled, “that you beat me up? And you dare to come and ask 
me for money?** 

But the Nazi only grinned. “Now, now, comradel No 
political s(juabbling! Remember, we*re living in the Third 
Reich! Were all brothers! You must try and drive that silly 
political hatred from your heart!** 

This evening I went into the Russian tea-shop in the 
Kleiststrasse, and there was D. For a moment I really thought 
I must be dreaming. He greeted me quite as usual, beaming 
all over his face. 

“Good God!** I whispered. “What on earth are you doing 

D. beamed. “You thought I might have gone abroad?** 

“WeU, naturaUy. . . .** 

“But the situation nowadays is so interesting. . . 


I laughed. “That’s one way of looking at it, certainly. . . . 
But isn’t it awfully dangerous for you?” 

D. merely smiled. Then he turned to the girl he was sitting 
with and said, “This is Mr, Isherwood. . . . You can speak 
quite openly to him. He hates the Nazis as much as we do. 
Oh, yes I Mr. Isherwood is a confirmed anti-fascist!” 

He laughed very heartily and slapped me on the back. 
Several people who were sitting near us overheard him. 
Their reactions were curious. Either they simply couldn’t 
believe their ears, or they were so scared that they pretended 
to hear nothing, and went on sipping their tea in a state of 
deaf horror. I have seldom felt so uncomfortable in my whole 

( D.’s technique appears to have had its points, all the same. 
He was never arrested. Two months later, he successfully 
crossed the frontier into Holland.) 

This morning, as I was walking down the Biilowstrasse, 
the Nazis were raiding the house of a small liberal pacifist 
publisher. They had brought a lorry and were piling it with 
the publisher’s books. The driver of the lorry mockingly read 
out the titles of the books to the crowd: 

“Nie Wieder Kriegr he shouted, holding up one of them 
by the comer of the cover, disgustedly, as though it were 
a nasty kind of reptile. Everybody roared with laughter. 

“ ‘No More War!’ ” echoed a fat, well-dressed woman, with 
a scornful, savage laugh. “What an idea!” 

At present, one of my regular pupils is Herr N., a police 
chief under the Weimar regime. He comes to me every day. 
He wants to brush up his English, for he is leaving very soon 
to take up a job in the United States. The curious 3iing about 
these lessons is that they are all given while we are driving 
about the streets in Herr N.’s enormous closed car. Herr N. 
himself never comes into our house: he sends up his chauf* 


£eur to fetch me, and the car moves off at once. Sometimes 
we stop for a few minutes at the edge of the Tiergarten, and 
stroll up and down the paths — the chauffeur always follow- 
ing us at a respectful distance. 

Herr N. talks to me chiefly about his family. He is worried 
about his son, who is very delicate, and whom he is obliged 
to leave behind, to undergo an operation. His wife is delicate, 
too. He hopes the journey wont tire her. He describes her 
symptoms, and the kind of medicine she is taking. He* tells 
me stories about his son as a little boy. In a tactful, imper- 
sonal way we have become quite intimate. Herr N. is always 
charmingly polite, and listens gravely and carefully to my 
explanations of grammatical points. Behind everyming* he 
says I am aware of an immense sadness. 

We never discuss politics; but I know that Herr N. must 
be an enemy of the Nazis, and, perhaps, even in hourly 
danger of arrest. One morning, when we were driving along 
the Unter den Linden, we passed a group of self-important 
S.A. men, chatting to each other and blocking the whole 
pavement. Passers-by were obliged to walk in the gutter. 
Herr N. smiled faintly and sadly: “One sees some queer 
sights in the streets nowadays.” That was his only comment. 

Sometimes he will bend forward to the window and regard 
a building or a square with a mournful fixity, as if to impress 
its image upon his memory and to bid it good-bye. 

To-morrow I am going to England. In a few weeks I shall 
return, but only to pick up my things, before leaving Berlin 

Poor Frl. Sdiroeder is inconsolable: “I shall never find 
another gentleman like you, Herr Issyvoo — always so punc- 
tual with the rent. . . . Tm sure I don^t know what makes 
you want to leave Berlin, all of a sudden, like this. . . 

It’s no use trying to explain to her, or talking politics. Al- 
ready she is adapting herself, as she will adapt herself to 
every new regime. This morning I even heard her talking 


reverently about ‘‘Der Fiihrer*^ to the porter s wife. If any- 
body were to remind her that, at the elections last November, 
she voted communist, she would probably deny it hotly, and 
in perfect good faith. She is merely acclimatizing herself, in 
accordance with a natural law, like an animal which changes 
its coat for the winter. Thousands of people like Frl. Schroe- 
der are acclimatizing themselves. After all, whatever govern- 
ment is in power, they are doomed to live in this town. 

To-day the sun is brilliantly shining; it is quite mild and 
warm. I go out for my last morning walk, without an overcoat 
or hat. The sun shines, and Hitler is master of this city. The 
sun shines, and dozens of my friends — ^my pupils at the 
Workers’ School, the men and women I met at the LA.H. — 
are in prison, possibly dead. But it isn’t of them that I am 
thinking — ^the clear-headed ones, the purposeful, the heroic; 
they recognized and accepted the risks. I am thinking of poor 
Rudi, in his absurd Russian blouse. Rudi’s make-believe, 
story-book game has become earnest; the Nazis will play it 
with him. The Nazis wont laugh at him; they’ll take him on 
trust for what he pretended to be. Perhaps at this very mo- 
ment Rudi is being tortured to death, 

I catch sight of my face in the mirror of a shop, and am 
shocked to see that I am smiling. You can’t help smiling, in 
•►such beautiful weather. The trams are going up and down 
the Kleiststrasse, just as usual. They, and the people on the 
pavement, and the teacosy dome of the Nollendoifplatz sta- 
tion have an air of curious familiarity, of striking resemblance 
to something one remembers as normal and pleasant in the 
past — ^like a very good photograph. 

No. Even now I can’t altogether believe that any of this 
has really happened. . . .